Saudi Arabia urged to free journalist
Beirut – Saudi authorities should immediately release a male journalist who expressed support for an end to the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
Officials should also stop harassing and trying to intimidate activists and women who defied the ban.
Local activists reported that more than 50 women defying the ban drove Oct 26, according to messages they received from the women and videos women uploaded to YouTube showing themselves driving.
“Saudi authorities are retaliating against people who want a very basic right for women, the right to get behind the wheel and drive themselves where they want to go,” said Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch.
“The authorities should end the driving ban and stop harassing people for supporting women’s rights,” she said.
On Oct 27, the interior ministry’s Criminal Investigation Department summoned Tariq al-Mubarak, a secondary school teacher and columnist for the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, to question him about his support for the driving campaign, activists said.
Family members told activists that police took him into custody, and that he remains in detention without access to relatives or legal counsel.