Saudi Arabia postpones hearing for women activists
Saudi imprisoned human rights defenders; Abdullah al-Hamid, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani (all not pictured), receive the Right Livelihood Award represented by Omar al-Qahtani (L) family member of al-Qahtani and the Saudi human rights advocate Yahya Assiri (2-L), during a ceremony at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, Nov. 23, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/Meli Petersson Ellafi
Cairo, Apr 17 (efe-epa).- A Saudi Arabian court has postponed a hearing in the trial of women's rights defenders Wednesday, almost a year after they were detained in a crackdown on activists.
The decision came days after the authorities made a fresh wave of arrests.
"The trial has been adjourned. The court asked us to come back tomorrow to know when the next trial is and the reason they adjourned the trial," Walid al-Hathloul, brother of Saudi activist Loujain who was imprisoned last May, wrote on Twitter.
The London-based Saudi rights organization ALQST confirmed that the "trial did not take place today, for reasons that are not known."
Among those jailed were activists Loujain, Nassima al-Sadah and Abdullah al-Hamid, who received a nomination for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Riyadh's criminal court handling their case has not ruled on the matter yet.
The trial of around a dozen women's rights activists started on Mar. 13, accused by the Office of Public Prosecution of cyber-crimes of "coordinated activity and organized action to undermine the security and stability of the Kingdom, its social peace and national unity."
Two weeks later, the criminal court ordered the temporary release of three activists, identified as Ruqqaya al-Muhareb, Aziz al-Yousef and Eman al-Nafajan, pending the next session of their trial.
Saudi authorities arrested at least nine more activists on Apr. 5, according to ALQST.
At a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Mar. 7, a total of 36 countries, including all 28 member countries of the European Union, condemned the arrests of the human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.
This is the first collective rebuke of the country since the Council was founded in 2006.
Saudi Arabia also has faced global condemnation since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, which Riyadh insists was a "rogue operation."
It has put 11 defendants, all of whom are Saudi nationals, on trial for the crime.
Khashoggi had been a columnist for the Washington Post since 2017 after he left Saudi Arabia and was openly critical of his country's monarchy. EFE