May 18, 2018
Saudi authorities have detained at least six activists, including three of the country’s most prominent women’s rights campaigners, just weeks before the kingdom is set to lift a ban on women driving, people familiar with the arrests said Friday.
The Associated Press spoke with two people in touch with the detainees’ relatives. One activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion, said five were arrested on Tuesday and the sixth person was detained on Thursday. Several more are feared to be detained and others have been banned from traveling abroad by the government.
The government has not commented on the arrests and government spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The crackdown on prominent activists comes just six weeks before Saudi Arabia is set to lift the world’s only ban on women driving on June 24. It is seen as a significant step toward greater women’s rights in the kingdom.
Activists say it’s not clear why the group of six, including four women and two men, have been arrested now. Among the men detained is lawyer Ibrahim al-Mudimigh, who previously defended al-Hathloul in court.