JEDDAH – A Saudi court has released five women who allegedly had links with Al-Qaeda but the move was unrelated to demands made by captors holding a Saudi diplomat in Yemen.
“Five women held on security charges have been released based on judicial orders in two different cases,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mansur Al-Turki was quoted as saying.
The court ordered the release of two of the women “one month ago because they were pregnant and close to their due dates,” Turki said, adding they remained on trial out of custody.
“Three others were released on bail early this week pending trial.”
One more woman detainee is serving a jail sentence.
On March 28, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula abducted Abdullah Al-Khalidi, Saudi Arabia’s deputy consul in Yemen’s southern city of Aden, in a bid to secure the release of female prisoners and collect a ransom.
However, when asked if the release of the five women was linked to Khalidi’s abduction, Turki said that the court decisions were “normal judicial procedures.”
“We cannot consider this release as heeding to demands of the captors because, on principle, states do not accept to be subject to blackmail,” said a Saudi official.
“There was a coincidence between the release of the women detainees on humanitarian grounds and the demands of the captors,” he said.
Khalidi is the third Saudi national to be kidnapped in Yemen in as many years.
Saudi Arabia had witnessed a wave of deadly attacks by Al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006, which prompted authorities to launch a crackdown on the local branch of the network. – Agencies