Personal information

  • Sex: Female
  • Marital status: Single
  • Date of birth: 31 July 1989
  • Area of activity: Human rights activist , Women’s rights activist
  • Place of residence: Recently based in Riyadh, KSA
  • Group:

Activist Loujain al-Hathloul is an iconic figure in Saudi Arabia’s women’s rights movement. She openly defied the former ban on women driving in the campaign to have it lifted, and has consistently called for dismantlement of the male guardianship system. She ranked third among Arabian Business’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2015” and was dubbed an “icon” among Time magazine's “100 Most Influential People of 2019”. Al-Hathloul has won several international awards in recognition of her peaceful struggle for women’s rights, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 and 2020.

Arrest and jail information

  • Prison: Al-Ha’ir Prison, Riyadh
  • Date of arrest: 15 May 2018
  • Manner of arrest: In a late-night police raid on her house; she was snatched from her bedroom and taken to Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh

Trial information

  • Charges: Communicating with foreign entities hostile to Saudi Arabia; recruiting government employees to gather confidential information; providing financial support to entities abroad hostile to Saudi Arabia
  • Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)
  • Verdict: Five years and eight months in prison (with two years and 10 months suspended).


  • Arbitrary arrest/ detention ,
  • Enforced disappearance ,
  • Denied contact with family ,
  • Denied access to a lawyer ,
  • Torture and ill-treatment ,
  • Observers denied access to court hearings

Violation details

Physically tortured (beaten, electrocuted, waterboarded and force-fed); sexually molested; threatened with rape and murder; placed in solitary confinement on and off for nearly a year and denied visits and contact with her family for the first month of her arrest.


Won the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award along with Nouf Abdulaziz and Eman Al-Nafjan


  • 19 April 2021 - Received the 2020 Václav Havel Prize for her activism for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.  
  • 10 March 2021 - The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh upheld the original sentence issued against her.
  • 2 March 2021 - Loujain appeared in court for an appeal hearing against her sentence. The prosecution called for an increase of her sentence.  
  • 10 February 2021 - After more than 1000 days in detention, she was released following the expiry of her sentence, but continues to face three years of probation and a five-year travel ban.
  • 28 December 2020 - The SCC sentenced her to five years and eight months in prison, with 2 years and 10 months suspended.
  • 10 December 2020 - Loujain’s trial resumes, now in the SCC after being transferred from the regular Criminal Court, and the Public Prosecution presents an amended indictment against her.
  • 25 November 2020 - She was brought before the Criminal Court in Riyadh. Her case was transferred to the Specialised Criminal Court after the Criminal Court concluded that it was “outside its jurisdiction”.
  • 16 November 2020 - She was awarded the 2020 Magnitsky Human Rights Award.
  • 2 October 2020 - She won the 2020 Freedom Prize, during the World Normandy Peace Forum.
  • 31 August 2020 - She was allowed a visit from her family, after being denied any visits or phone calls for almost three months.
  • August 2020 - She went on hunger strike from 16-23 August in protest over having been denied visits and phone calls for nearly three months.
  • 12 February 2020 - She appeared before the Criminal Court, where the public prosecutor responds to their defence, repeating previous charges.
  • January 2020 - The Criminal Court held a new session in her trial.
  • 2019 - She was selected as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year.
  • August 2019 - She rejected an offer of release from prison in exchange for a video statement denying that she was tortured in custody.
  • 14 June 2019 - She was Honorary Citizenship of the City of Paris. 
  • March 2019 - She received the 2019 PEN America/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, alongside On March 14, 2019, PEN America Nouf Abdulaziz and Eman Al-Nafjan.
  • 16 December 2018 - .She was transferred to al-Ha'ir Prison in Riyadh 
  • 1 August 2018 - She was transferred to Dhahban Prison in Jeddah.
  • 2018 - She was subjected to physical torture, including waterboarding, electric shocks, forced eating, sexual harassment and threats of rape and murder. She was prevented from visiting and communicating with her family during the first month of detention, and was placed in solitary confinement for about a year intermittently.
  • 2018 - She was held for the first three months after her arrest in an unknown location where there are torture rooms.
  • 15 May 2018 - She was arrested from her home in Riyadh.
  • 15 March 2018 - She was banned from traveling, taking part on social media, and prevented from completing her master's degree in the UAE.
  • 12 March 2018 - She was kidnapped from UAE and deported to Saudi Arabia where she was arrested for a few days and then put under a travel ban 
  • February 2018 - She attended the 69th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva.
  • February 2015 - The Saudi authorities released her due to international pressure after 73 days in prison, but without closing her case. 
  • 30 November 2014 - She was arrested while trying to cross the Saudi-Emirati border.

Other prisoners


Eman al-Nafjan

Academic , Blogger , Human rights activist , Women’s rights activist , Writer


Loujain al-Hathloul

Human rights activist , Women’s rights activist


Abeer Namankany

Academic , Human rights activist


Samar Badawi

Human rights activist , Women’s rights activist


Nassima al-Sadah

Human rights activist , Women’s rights activist