March 05, 2019

Connolly-Kaine Urge Secretary Pompeo to Call for Aziza Al-Youssef's Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urging him to call for the immediate release of Virginian Aziza Al-Youssef. Al-Youssef, a U.S. legal permanent resident and graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, has been detained in Saudi Arabia since May of 2018 with no access to legal representation. She is currently being held in al-Hair prison, and has shared accounts with the National Human Rights Commission of her torture by electrocution, beatings, and solitary isolation.  

The lawmakers described Al-Youssef’s human rights advocacy, which included campaigns to lift the driving ban and repeal male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia. She has also supported many cases of women survivors of violence and created a fund to support the families of prisoners of conscience.

“Such treatment of Ms. Al-Youssef deprives her of due process and violates her fundamental human rights,” Connolly and Kaine wrote. “The United States must speak out against those who use unjust imprisonment and torture to oppress their own people and Americans. We urge you to call for the immediate release of Ms. Al-Youssef and other unjustly detained women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia.”

The full letter follows and is available here.

The Honorable Michael Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C St NW

Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write to urge you to personally raise with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the issue of our constituent and U.S. legal permanent resident Aziza Al-Youssef's unjust imprisonment and call for her immediate release. We also request that you seek an update on her condition and information regarding whether she has access to appropriate legal counsel.

Ms. Al-Youssef is an outspoken advocate for human rights and critic of inequality in Saudi Arabia’s justice system. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and a retired university lecturer. Ms. Al-Youssef has led campaigns to lift the driving ban and repeal male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia. She has also supported many cases of women survivors of violence and created a fund to support the families of prisoners of conscience.

As you know, Ms. Al-Youssef was arrested on May 15, 2018 with a group of women’s rights activists. She has since shared with committees from the National Human Rights Commission and the General Prosecution accounts of her torture by electrocution, beatings, and solitary isolation. She is currently being held in Al-Hair prison in Riyadh. She remains detained without legal representation or referral to trials, and her family has only been able to visit her once a month since the end of August.

Such treatment of Ms. Al-Youssef deprives her of due process and violates her fundamental human rights. The United States must speak out against those who use unjust imprisonment and torture to oppress their own people and Americans. We urge you to call for the immediate release of Ms. Al-Youssef and other unjustly detained women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. We look forward to hearing an update on her condition, including her access to legal counsel, as soon as possible. 

           

Best Regards,

 

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