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The telegraph

The liberated Saudi activist had electrodes attached to her head when she spoke to relatives on the phone, the family said

An imprisoned Saudi suffragette had electrodes attached to her head when she spoke to her family on the phone to prevent her from talking about the torture she suffered in prison, her sister said Thursday after her release. Loujain al-Hathoul was released on Wednesday after 1,001 days in detention for her activism at her family’s home in Riyadh. While on parole, she cannot travel, use social media, or speak to the media. Her sisters, who live abroad, announced Thursday that Ms. al-Hathoul would appeal in Saudi Arabia over the torture she suffered in detention. “She was tortured and can’t forget it,” said her sister Lina during an online press conference. The family had previously alleged Ms. al-Hathoul had been tortured – which the Saudi authorities deny – but released new details Thursday, including the threat of electric shock preventing them from speaking. “If I complained about anything, they were ready to kill me,” said Lina, her sister told the family on Wednesday about her first months in prison. “It was months later when we heard about the torture,” said Ms. Lina when Ms. al-Hathoul was transferred to another prison. Ms. al-Hathoul identified one of her torturers as Saud Al Qahtani, a top advisor to the Saudi crown prince, until he was sanctioned by the US for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “He is the only person whose name is known who was present during the torture,” Lina said. Notorious in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Qahtani is sometimes referred to as the “Lord of the Flies” for his army of Twitter trolls targeting dissidents. “Loujain recognized him, he is a public figure,” said her older sister Alia. Ms. al-Hathoul now hopes to use the Saudi judicial system to prove she has been tortured and to seek justice. “The torturers must be sentenced,” said Lina. In December, Ms. al-Hathoul was sentenced to almost six years in prison for her activism. This included the demand for the right of women to drive and the abolition of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia. The decade-old driving ban was lifted weeks after her arrest, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was keen to claim recognition for the reform. The 35-year-old prince strove to become the next heir to the throne in 2015, including by projecting an image as a dynamic young reformer capable of modernizing the conservative kingdom. But the sisters believe that reforms under Mohammed bin Salman are illusory. “MBS is far from being a reformer, it is an oppressor,” said Lina, referring to him with his initials. “The advancement of women is a lie in Saudi Arabia, there are no real reforms,” ​​she said. Lina said she chose her words carefully to avoid further negative effects on her family in Saudi Arabia: “There is really an atmosphere of fear among MBS.” The family believes the early release of Ms. al-Hathoul from the Saudi government was slated to impress new US President Joe Biden, who has promised a closer look at his close ally’s human rights record. “The situation in Saudi Arabia is closely related to developments in the US,” said Alia. “The Biden government has made it clear that they care about human rights.”

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