The Washington Post

Officials free 3 women detained in crackdown

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Authoritie­s in Saudi Arabia have released three prominent women’s rights activists but continue to hold at least seven others as part of a sweep targeting icons of the country’s women’s rights movement, activists and rights groups said Thursday.

The three women released — Aisha al-Mana, Hessah al-Sheikh and Madeha al-Ajroush — are longtime advocates of women’s rights and took part in the first protest, in 1990, over the kingdom’s ban on women driving.

Activists and rights groups say those still detained — four women and three men — have been interrogat­ed without access to lawyers and have been allowed just one phone call since their arrest last week.

The arrests have cast a pall over recent social openings being pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including a decision to lift, next month, the world’s only ban on women driving.

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