Riyadh grants provisional release to three rights activists

Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef and Roqaya al-Mohareb were able to leave their cell. In these months of imprisonment they have suffered violence and abuse. Another eight women should be released by March 31st. For their campaigns they risk up to five years in prison. The sentence expected for early April.

 Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Riyadh has provisionally released - until the conclusion of the trial - three activists, who have been in prison for about a year for "contacts" with "foreign parties" and for promoting pro-human rights campaigns. According to reports from the Alqst group, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef and Roqaya al-Mohareb were able to leave their cells and return home.

Furthermore, two different sources interviewed by Reuters add that the other eight activists still in prison should be released - also conditionally until the end of the proceedings - by next March 31st.

The group of 11 women must answer for crimes related to cybercrime, activism and for having "betrayed" the values ​​of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi kingdom. They risk up to five years in prison. In reality they have fought for the end of male guardianship and for the women’s right to drive.

Hum Rights bodes and NGOs welcome Riyadh’s decision to release the activists subjected in prison to torture and violence, including sexual abuse. The release, they add, must not however be temporary, but definitive and all the accusations against them dropped.

On 8 March last 36 nations at the UN Human Rights Council criticized Riyadh for human rights violations, with a particular reference to incarcerated women. An absolute first which shows a growing pressure towards the façade "reforms" promoted by the 33 year old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the context of the Vision 2030 program. war in Yemen with civilian victims, including children, and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi are a cause for concern.

The liberation of activists is only temporary measure and does not mean that the trial has been closed. The sentence should arrive in one of the next hearings, scheduled for early April. However, analysts and experts consider it positive that they could return home. A sign that international pressure on Riyadh, already targeted by the Khashoggi affair, seems to work.