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The New Arab

'Qahtani present' when Saudi activist was 'beaten, waterboarded, threatened with rape'

Loujain is among more than a dozen activists arrested last May [Wikimedia]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2019

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The sister of detained Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has confirmed reports that she has been subjected to sexual harassment and torture while in detention.

The sister of detained Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has confirmed reports that she has been subjected to sexual harassment and torture while in detention.

Alia al-Hathloul revealed the details of the abuses her sister has faced in an article published in The New York Times on Sunday.

Alia said that Loujain has told their parents that Saudi authorities, including top royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani, have subjected her to torture and threats of rape.

"She said she had been held in solitary confinement, beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed and threatened with rape and murder. My parents then saw that her thighs were blackened by bruises," Alia wrote.

"Qahtani was present several times when Loujain was tortured, she said. Sometimes Qahtani laughed at her, sometimes he threatened to rape and kill her and throw her body into the sewage system," she said.

Alia added that a delegation from the Saudi Human Rights Commission visited Loujain in prison and told her they were unable to protect her.

Loujain is among more than a dozen activists arrested last May, just before the historic lifting of Saudi Arabia's decades-long ban on women drivers.

Many of them were accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported that some of the detained activists have faced sexual harassment and torture during interrogation.

The Saudi government denies the claim.

Loujain was held in 2014 for more than 70 days for attempting to drive from neighbouring UAE to Saudi Arabia.

She was detained again just before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the country would end its ban on women driving, along with other women's rights activists.

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