Riyadh (AM) – Several activists imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since May, including a number of women, face sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gas led a crackdown against human rights defenders and intellectuals continue unabated in the conservative kingdom and have detained at least 10 women and seven men on vague national security allegations related to their human rights work.

Amnesty, London-based rights group, said that according to three testimonies it obtained, some of the activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one instance, an activist was hung from the ceiling. Another testimony said one of the detained women was subjected to sexual harassment by interrogators wearing face masks.

“Only a few weeks after the ruthless killing of Jamal Khashoggi, these shocking reports of torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment, if verified, expose further outrageous human rights violations by the Saudi authorities,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.

She added, “Saudi authorities are directly responsible for the well-being of these women and men in detention. Not only have they been deprived them of their liberty for months now, simply for peacefully expressing their views, they are also subjecting them to horrendous physical suffering.”

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According to the testimonies obtained, the human rights defenders were unable to walk or stand properly, had uncontrolled shaking of the hands, and marks on the body. One of the activists reportedly attempted to take her own life repeatedly inside the prison, Amnesty reported.

“The Saudi authorities must immediately and unconditionally release detained human rights defenders who are being held solely for their peaceful human rights work and launch a prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the reports of torture and other ill-treatment with the view of holding those responsible to account,” Maalouf pointed out.

Torture and various forms of ill-treatment have been routinely and widely reported over the past years in Saudi prisons and detention centers. Last month, a group of UN experts called for the immediate release of six female human rights campaigners, who are said to be held incommunicado in prison.

Amnesty International’s report came as Saudi Arabia is currently grappling with an international crisis over the murder of prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul on October 2.

This post originally ran on Al-Masirah and was republished here with permission. Featured photo: Matthias Müller