Biden praises release of Saudi activist Loujain Al Hathloul

Releasing her was the right thing to do, says US President

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the State Department in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. In his inaugural visit to the department, Biden said he is halting or reversing a slew of foreign policy initiatives from the Trump administration, including troop drawdowns in Germany and support for a Saudi-led offensive in Yemen that turned into a humanitarian disaster. Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg

US President Joe Biden has praised the Saudi government's release of activist Loujain Al Hathloul.

“I have some welcome news that the Saudi government has released a prominent human rights activist,” Mr Biden said on Wednesday.

“She was a powerful activist for women’s rights and releasing her was the right thing to do.”

Ms Al Hathloul, 31, was sentenced in court to five years and eight months in prison last December after being arrested in 2018.

She was charged with recruiting people "in charge of sensitive government positions, providing foreign circles with money with the aim to destabilise the kingdom, breach its social structure and mar the national consistence”, state media reported.

Ms Al Hathloul was also given a five-year travel ban. The court suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence and backdated her sentence to May 2018.

Earlier, her sister Lina, who has been campaigning for Ms Al Hathloul’s release, tweeted on Wednesday afternoon to say that “Loujain is at home.”