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December 16, 2020

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Wrongfully Detained Saudi Human Rights Activist

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2020 — The American Bar Association is concerned about the sudden resumption last week of the criminal trial of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Al-Hathloul’s trial is moving forward in spite of a determination by the presiding court that it did not have jurisdiction over her prosecution. Her case has been transferred to the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court, a forum established to hear terrorism-related cases. 

One of the leaders of the campaign to allow Saudi women to drive, al-Hathloul was arrested on May 15, 2018, reportedly for spying and charges related to her contacts with foreign diplomats, media and activist groups. Since that time, governments, independent United Nations experts, bar associations and human rights organizations worldwide have advocated for her release, which would demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s goodwill and interest in advancing the status of women.

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