A Saudi court has sentenced women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison.
According to foreign news agency Reuters, his family and local media said the case had drawn international condemnation.
Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, was arrested in 2018 along with at least a dozen other women’s rights activists.
The ruling is seen as a critical step in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s relationship with newly elected US President Joe Biden, who has criticized human rights records in Riyadh.
According to the Sabq and Al-Shirk al-Awsat newspapers, Loujain al-Hathloul was accused of trying to change the Saudi political system and undermine national security.
The court suspended the sentence from two years and 10 months after the arrest in May 2018, according to the newspapers and Loujain al-Hathloul sister.
According to newspapers, she could be released at the end of February 2021. If she commits any crime, she may be jailed again.
The sister of the convicted human rights volunteer tweeted that Loujain had been banned from travelling for five years.
She added that the public prosecutor and Loujain could appeal against the judge’s decision.
UN human rights experts have called the allegations “incomprehensible” and called for the release of Loujain al-Hathloul, a leading human and legal group in the United States and Europe.
Loujain al-Hathloul gained popularity in 2013 when she launched a public campaign for women’s driving rights in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi officials said the arrests were aimed at harming Saudi interests and supporting hostile elements abroad.
Some of the women have been detained while their investigation is ongoing, they said.