Saudi female activist rejected deal to deny being tortured in exchange for freedom: Family

PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a placard outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy to protest on International Womens Day to urge Saudi authorities to release jailed womens activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef in Paris, March 8, 2019.PlayBenoit Tessier/Reuters, File
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Loujain al Hathloul, who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since May 2018 for her work promoting women's rights in the kingdom, including defying the previous ban on women driving, has turned down a deal to be released.

According to her family, she received an offer recently to finally secure her freedom, but only if she denied being tortured while in custody.

Her brother, Walid al Hathloul, tweeted Tuesday that officials visited her in prison and asked her to sign a document to deny ever being tortured. On a third visit, they added a new request -- to appear on video and deny any torture took place.

"She immediately ripped the document," according to Walid. "She told them by asking me to sign this document you are involved in the the (sic) cover up and you're simply trying [to] defend Saud Al-Qahtani who was overseeing the torture."

Qahtani is a Saudi official who served as a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but was reportedly dismissed after being implicated in the plot to murder Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Loujain's sister, Lina al Hathloul, added: "Whatever happens I am certifying it 1 more time: Loujain has been brutally tortured and sexually harassed."

Her sister tweeted Wednesday, "We have no guarantee whatsoever that if she accepts the deal, they’ll free her. We are tired of false promises."

At least four of the female activists in Saudi custody have said they have been tortured, according to human rights groups.

In a statement to ABC News, a Saudi official denied that al Hathloul was tortured or offered a deal for her release, adding Saudi laws "prohibit torture" and, "Detainees and prisoners have the right to file a complaint alleging mistreatment, and the kingdom has institutions in place that ensure that their grievances are redressed."

Lina al Hathloul said she worries that speaking out "will harm my sister," but added, "We have no guarantee whatsoever that if she accepts the deal, they'll free her. We are tired of false promises."

PHOTO: Demonstrators stage the protest on International Womens Day to urge Saudi authorities to release jailed womens rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Paris, March 8, 2019. Benoit Tessier/Reuters, File
Demonstrators stage the protest on International Women's Day to urge Saudi authorities to release jailed women's rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Paris, March 8, 2019.

The State Department did not comment on the specific allegations, but more broadly a spokesperson said in a statement, "We have expressed our concern over the detention of peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia. We urge the government of Saudi Arabia, and all governments, to ensure fair trial guarantees, freedom from arbitrary and extrajudicial detention, transparency, and rule of law."

They referred further questions to the Saudi government.

Separately, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus condemned Iran for sentencing three women's rights activists "to 55 years in prison for protesting compulsory hijab laws while simply handing out roses."

Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz were sentenced for their peaceful campaign against the hijab laws on July 31. Aryani and Arabshahi were sentenced to 16 years each, and Keshavarz was sentenced to 23.5 years -- a combined 55 years, with each required to serve 10 years of their sentence, according to human rights groups.

PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a placard outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy to protest on International Womens Day to urge Saudi authorities to release jailed womens activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef in Paris, March 8, 2019. Benoit Tessier/Reuters, File
A demonstrator holds a placard outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy to protest on International Women's Day to urge Saudi authorities to release jailed women's activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef in Paris, March 8, 2019.

"We urge all nations to condemn this grave violation," Ortagus said in her tweet Wednesday.

Ortagus has not tweeted about Loujain al Hathloul's accusations.