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    Monday, 4 June 2018

    Saudi Arabia detains 17 in sweeping crackdown

    Saudi Arabia on Saturday said it detained 17 people for "undermining" the kingdom's security, in what campaigners have dubbed a sweeping crackdown against activists just weeks before a ban on women driving ends. Rights groups earlier reported arrests of at least 11 people last month, mostly identified as women campaigners for the right to drive and to end the conservative Islamic country's male guardianship system.
    Without naming anyone, the public prosecutor's office said the number of detainees stood at 17, adding that eight of them had been "temporarily released" until the investigation is completed. Nine suspects, including four women, remain in custody after they "confessed" to a slew of charges such as suspicious contact with "hostile" organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions, it said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency.
    The statement accused the detainees of "coordinated activity undermining the security and stability of the kingdom". Previous reports in state-backed media branded some of the detainees traitors and "agents of embassies". Campaigners have dismissed the reports as a "smear" campaign. The crackdown has also sparked a torrent of global criticism, casting a shadow on the kingdom's much-publicised liberalisation push launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
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    Item Reviewed: Saudi Arabia detains 17 in sweeping crackdown Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Asqamar