Saudi prosecutors say women's rights activists to face trial

Those detained include Loujain al-Hathloul who advocated for women's right to drive

Those detained include Loujain al-Hathloul who advocated for women's right to drive

Hunt's visit came just a day after Saudi Arabia announced that it will put jailed women activists on trial after holding them for almost a year without charge, prompting strong condemnation from rights groups.

"The Saudi prosecution is bringing charges against the women's rights activists instead of releasing them unconditionally", said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"The public prosecution would like to announce that it has concluded its investigation and prepared the indictment list against the defendants. and will refer the case to the relevant court", the state-controlled Saudi Press Agency said on Friday.

"The Saudi authorities have done nothing to investigate serious allegations of torture, and now, it's the women's rights activists, not any torturers, who face criminal charges and trials".

Most were accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state.

Trials in the ultra-conservative kingdom are often shrouded in secrecy.

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Dozens of other activists, intellectuals and clerics have been arrested separately in an apparent bid to stamp out opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has consolidated power including with a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

Saudi Arabia's cabinet has approved electronic visas for foreign visitors to attend sporting events and concerts, local media reported, as the world's top oil exporter tries to diversify its economy and open up its society.

"Let us see the end result and then judge, not jump to conclusions". The advocacy group slammed Riyadh for continuing what it described as the kingdom's signature repression.

He also denied reports by rights groups that the activists had been tortured saying they had all been treated in accordance with the law.

Hunt complained, however, about slow implementation of a ceasefire deal in rebel-held Hodeida, which was agreed in Sweden in December between the Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels.

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