Meghan's Friend Who Posed With Her On Vanity Fair Photoshoot Faces 20 Years In Jail In Saudi Arabia
A women’s rights activist who once posed with The Duchess of Sussex for a Vanity Fair photoshoot faces 20 years in jail after allegedly confessing to conspiring with enemies of Saudi Arabia.
Loujain Al-Hathloul, 28, is among nine women held during a brutal crackdown in May just as the desert kingdom was about to allow women to drive for the first time.
At the time campaigners were bidding to use the lifting of the driving ban as a springboard for further reforms such as ending Saudi Arabia’s restrictive male guardianship system and allowing more freedom of speech.
But instead they were rounded up, thrown in jail and now face charges of treason that carry the harshest prison sentence, or even the death penalty.
Kareem Chehayeb, Saudi Arabia researcher for Amnesty International, said: "The Saudi authorities don’t want any change to come from below. They want to stifle any form of dissent or human rights activism.
"It appears that the only reforms that are acceptable are those that are coming from above, which is absolutely outrageous."
Al-Hathloul’s arrest came two years after she attended a One Young World humanitarian summit with the then Meghan Markle, Emma Watson, Cher as well as the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
Amnesty International expects them to be brought before the Specialised Criminal Court to face charges which amounted to treason, the penalty for which is 20 years in jail, or even the death sentence
Mr Chehayeb said: "They have been arrested purely based on their women’s rights activism and these are trumped up charges for which they could get 20 years in jail.
"We don’t know the conditions in which they are being kept, we don’t know if they have access to lawyers during these interrogations when they allegedly confessed to these crimes.
"With treason you cannot rule out the death penalty but we anticipate they will be given harsh prison sentences based on trumped-up security-related charges."
As well as Al-Hathloul, the other activists being held include Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Ibrahim al-Modeimegh, Mohammad al-Rabea and Mohammed al-Bajadi.
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