Saudi Prison Officials Tortured Detained Activists, Groups Say

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi prison officials tortured activists who have been detained without charge for months, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Male and female activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging at Saudi Arabia’s Dhahban prison, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly, according to three testimonies obtained by Amnesty. One of the women was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment by interrogators wearing face masks, the organization said in a statement Tuesday. One activist attempted suicide, according to the report.

Saudi authorities also administered electric shocks and whipped women on their thighs, Human Rights Watch said in a separate statement.

Saudi Arabia “does not condone, promote, or allow the use of torture," according to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The accusations come as international condemnation against Saudi Arabia continues following the kingdom’s killing of columnist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul last month.

While Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has opened up the kingdom’s economy and loosened some social restrictions, he’s cracked down on several of the country’s most prominent women’s rights activists.

Among the activists detained this year are Loujain Al-Hathloul, who fought for the right of women to drive; and Aziza Al-Yousef, a grandmother who has supported Saudi feminists for decades. In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Prince Mohammed accused activists of aiding foreign intelligence agencies, without providing evidence.

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