Saudi Arabia 'temporarily releases' three detained women's rights activists
Saudi Arabia temporarily released on Thursday three out of 11 women detained last year in a sweeping crackdown on activists, withmore expected to leave jail following mounting international criticism on Riyadh.
"News reported that Dr. Rokaya Mohareb, activists Aziza al-Youssef and Eman al-Nafjan will be released," a close relative and London-based rights group ALQST confirmed.
ALQST, a human rights organisation that documents and promotes human rights in Saudi Arabia, said on Twitter that the remaining detainees are expected to be released on Sunday, 21 March.
Saudi Arabia detained up to 11 women almost a year ago, after they made contact with foreign media and activists, according to Human Rights Watch.
"After nearly a year of accusations... that these brave champions of women's rights are 'foreign agents', the actual charges against them appear to be simply a list of their efforts to promote women's rights," said Michael Page, HRW's Middle East deputy director.
The women were arrested in May and June last year in a sweeping crackdown on campaigners in the kingdom, just as the government announced it was lifting a ban on women drivers as part of the crown prince's economic reform and Vision 2030.
A number of countries, including all 28 members of the European Union, have called on Saudi Arabia to release the activists.