Two women's rights activists who were arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving were taken to the Special Criminal Court known as the "terrorism tribunal" on Thursday, the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper has reported on Friday.
"They will transfer her case to the terrorism court," an activist familiar with the case told Al-Akhbar. She also said that the lawyer representing one of the women would appeal the decision. A second activist also confirmed that the case would be transferred to the special tribunal.
The female activists were taken to a hearing in al-Ahsa in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.
Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, has been in custody since December 1, after she attempted to drive to the kingdom from the United Arab Emirates, defying the ban on female driving that is enforced in Saudi Arabia.
Maysaa al-Amoudi, 33, a Saudi journalist based in the UAE, came to the border to support al-Hathloul and was also arrested.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which prohibits women from driving. Activists say that the ban stems from the tradition of the ultra-consevative Wahhabi nation – which is not even backed by Islamic text or judicial ruling, according al-Akhbar.
Leading members of the Wahhabi clergy argue against women being allowed to drive as they say it could lead to women mingling with men and thus leading to breaches in the country's strict gender segregation rules.
Last November, Saudi Arabia's top cleric Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh said that the female driving prohibition protects society from "evil," according to al-Akhbar.
The Human Rights Watch has urged Saudi authorities to abolish the Specialized Criminal Court known as the "terrorism tribunal." The court is the same body that convicted the prominent cleric and pro-rights activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, sentencing him to death along with four other pro-democracy advocates who criticized the kingdom's policies and demanding better rights for Saudi minorities, according to al-Akhbar.
The Human Rights Watch said the trials of human rights workers and peaceful dissidents and activists revealed "serious due process concerns," such as broadly framed charges, denial of lawyers, and a quick dismissal of allegations of torture without investigation.
While activists familiar with the two women's case did not provide full details of the allegations against them, some said that they appeared to focus on the women's use of social media.
Hathloul is an active Twitter user and even detailed the 24 hours she spent waiting to cross into Saudi Arabia after she was stopped by officers via her account. Amoudi also is an active Twitter user, and even hosted a show on YouTube discussing the driving ban, al-Akhbar reported.
Many Saudis have been arrested over the years for posting content critical of the Wahhabi regime on Twitter and other social media outlets, according to al-Akhbar.