Saudi Arabia Reportedly Arrests Popular Human Rights Activist

| by Jimmy King
Samar Badawi.Samar Badawi.

Saudi Arabia reportedly arrested Samar Badawi, a prominent human rights activist, on Jan. 12. Badawi was freed the next day, reports The New York Times.

Badawi was reportedly charged with operating the Twitter account of her ex-husband Waleed Abulkhair after he was imprisoned in 2014. 

Badawi is a well-known activist in Saudi Arabia who was campaigning to free her ex-husband, a jailed human rights attorney.  Badawi also advocated for expansion of women’s rights in marriage, international travel and medical decisions. 

Badawi was recognized with the International Women of Courage award by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012, reports The Independent. 

Badawi was the first woman in Saudi Arabia to sue her father for the right to marry at her own will, and sued the Saudi government for the right to vote, reports The New York Times. 

She is connected to other prominent Saudi activists, including her sister Raif Badawi, a blogger who received 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for criticizing religious figures, reports The Independent. 

Badawi has encountered trouble with the Saudi government before. In 2010, she was sentenced to seven months in jail for allegedly “disobeying her father,” reports the Independent.

Saudi Arabia issued the human rights activist with an international travel ban in December 2014, reports The Independent. 

International organizations were quick to respond to Badawi’s recent arrest. Amnesty International called the arrest “the latest example of Saudi Arabia’s utter contempt for its human rights obligations.”

Philip Luther, a spokesman for Amnesty International, commented, “Samar Badawi’s arrest is another alarming setback for human rights in Saudi Arabia,” reports The Independent.

The Saudi government executed 47 men in early January for allegedly inciting opposition to the country’s royal family and religious establishment, reports The New York Times.

Badawi was released from a police station on Jan. 13, according to The New York Times. Saudi officials deny Badawi was arrested, insisting that she was detained overnight for questioning. Badawi was not formally charged with any crime, reports The New York Times. 

Sources: The New York Times (2), The Independent / Photo credit: Twitter