RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi authorities have temporarily freed at least four more women facing trial over charges related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats, other rights campaigners said on Thursday.
The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The campaigners, including London-based Saudi rights group ALQST, identified the released detainees as Hatoon al Fassi, Amal al Harbi, Maysaa al Manea and Abeer Namnakani.
They join three other women released over a month ago on condition they continue to appear in court.
Most of the detentions, numbering around a dozen, occurred last year in the weeks before and after a ban on women driving cars in the conservative kingdom was lifted amid efforts to relax social rules and boost the economy.
Activists and diplomats have speculated that the arrests may have been meant as a message to activists not to push demands out of sync with the government’s own agenda. But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied that, accusing the women of working for Qatari and Iranian intelligence.
The public prosecutor said last May that some of the women, along with several men, had been arrested on suspicion of harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.
The trial, which began in March, had not convened for nearly a month as a new wave of arrests was launched targeting lesser known supporters of the women, including two dual U.S. citizens.
Reporting by Stephen Kalin, additional reporting by Hesham Hajali, editing by Andrew Heavens