Saudi Arabia says it released eight people in activist crackdown

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia temporarily released eight people accused of communicating with organizations opposed to the kingdom and held nine others in detention, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.
The public prosecutor said it had interrogated people arrested last month, whom human rights groups and activists identified as women's rights activists.
In a statement, the public prosecutor said the detainees had admitted to communicating and cooperating with individuals and organizations opposed to the kingdom, recruiting people to get secret information to hurt the country's interests, and offering material and emotional support to hostile elements abroad.
The statement did not identify the detainees, and Reuters was unable to immediately verify their identity.
A total of 17 people have been arrested, eight of whom have been temporarily released, including five women and three men, the statement said. Nine people, five men and four women, remain in detention "after sufficient evidence was made available and for their confessions of charges attributed to them."
International rights watchdogs have reported the detention of at least 11 activists in the past few weeks, mostly women who previously campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.
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