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Girls & Women

Female Rights Activist in Saudi Arabia Arrested for Driving

By Heba Kanso

BEIRUT, June 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Saudi Arabia has arrested a prominent female activist who had previously been detained for flouting the country's driving ban, a human rights group said.

Loujain al-Hathloul was detained at King Fahd airport in Dammam on Sunday, Amnesty International said in a statement.

"It appears she is being targeted once again because of her peaceful work as a human rights defender speaking out for women's rights, which are consistently trammeled in the kingdom," Samah Hadid, campaigns director for Amnesty in the Middle East, said in the statement.

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Al-Hathloul was returning from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where she is now living to visit her family in Saudi Arabia for Ramadan, said Amnesty spokesman Tarek Wheibi.

The 27-year-old was previously detained for 73 days in 2014 after she attempted to drive into Saudi Arabia from the UAE.

Saudi Arabia is the only country to bar women from driving and requires them to have a male "guardian" who can stop them traveling, marrying, working or having some medical procedures.

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Amnesty said al-Hathloul had been denied access to a lawyer and her family, and is due to be interrogated in Riyadh.

The Saudi government was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Heba Kanso @hebakanso, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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