Loujain al-Hathloul, a women’s right activist was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison on the charge of terrorism-related crimes by a Saudi court on Monday, confirmed local media allowed to attend her trial.
Hathloul was convicted of "various activities prohibited by the anti-terrorism law", the pro-government online outlet Sabq and other media cited the court as saying.
According to AFP, Loujain al-Hathlou, who has been imprisoned since 2018 will be exempted of 34 months of her term "if she does not commit any crime" within the next three years, the court verdict said.
The reports however, did not explain whether the sentence included time served or say when she may be released from custody.
Loujain al-Hathlou, who was being tried by Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) under a vague and broadly-worded law aimed at combating terrorism, which campaigners dub as a way of issuing long jail terms to silence critical voices, was arrested in May 2018 with dozen other activists just weeks before the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on female drivers, a reform they had long campaigned for.
As far as the government's stance is concerned, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told AFP earlier this month that Hathloul was accused of contacting "unfriendly" states and providing classified information, an allegation of which no evidence were produced her family denied.
Hathloul's family also alleged sexual harassment and torture with her during detention. But Saudi authorities down-rightly denied the charges.
According to her siblings, Hathloul was also reportedly compelled to end a hunger strike she began in prison on October 26 to demand regular contact with her family,
"She was being woken up by the guards every two hours, day and night, as a brutal tactic to break her. Yet, she is far from broken." Amnesty said last month, citing the activist's family.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been facing intense criticism for its human rights violations due to which US President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration could intensify scrutiny of its failings.
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the other hand have demanded the "immediate and unconditional release" of Hathloul.
However, Hathloul has been granted 30 days period to file a motion to appeal against the judgement.