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Saudi Women Activists Face Torture, Sexual Abuse in Prison

Saudi Women Activists Face Torture, Sexual Abuse in Prison

LAST WEEK, SAUDI Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority announced 2019 as the “Year of Entertainment” in the kingdom. With a $64 billion budget granted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the plan comes complete with a social media platform and an app — Enjoy_Saudi — and aims to “transform the Kingdom into one of the top ten international entertainment destinations.” The authority said it is negotiating contracts to bring international stars, such as Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Trevor Noah, Chris Rock, and Seth Rogen, among others, to the kingdom. (“Not true,” Noah’s office told The Intercept. Rogen reportedly deniedentering into negotiations. Representatives for Carey, who performed in Saudi Arabia last month, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did representatives for Rock and Jay-Z.)

The same week, Amnesty International published new reports of systematic torture and sexual abuse of numerous female activists currently being held in Saudi prisons. Most of the women are now in their ninth month of detention, where they’ve been held without charges or legal representation. Evidence linked the women’s mistreatment to Saud al-Qahtani, a former top adviser to bin Salman who has been implicated in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Not only have they been depriving them of their liberty for months now, simply for peacefully expressing their views, they are also subjecting them to horrendous physical suffering,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East research director. The Saudi Ministry of Media has rejected the claims of torture as “baseless,” and has denied human rights observers any access to the prisoners. [Read Full Story on The Intercept]

New Yorker: Saudi Arabia's Global Campaign to Silence Critics

New Yorker: Saudi Arabia's Global Campaign to Silence Critics