Saudi Judge Sends Prominent Women’s Rights Activist to Terrorism Court

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Appearing weak and shaking uncontrollably, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent prisoners, the women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, appeared before a Saudi judge on Wednesday to learn that her case was being transferred to a special court for terrorism and national security crimes, her family said.

Ms. al-Hathloul, 31, has been detained since spring 2018 and charged with crimes that include seeking to change the kingdom’s political system, campaigning for women’s rights and communicating with foreign journalists, diplomats and human rights organizations.

Rights groups have called her trial a sham and accused the kingdom of using its courts to punish her and other activists for their outspokenness.

The new twist in Ms. al-Hathloul’s case comes as Saudi Arabia prepares to transition from a close rapport with President Trump, who cared little about the human rights records of America’s Arab allies, to an uncertain relationship with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

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