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3 Saudi women activists receive PEN Freedom to Write Award

NEW YORK (AP) — Three prominent Saudi women’s rights activists arrested last year are being honored by PEN America.

Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain al-Hathloul and Eman al-Nafjan have won the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, the literary and human rights organization announced Thursday. The award was established in 1987 and is given to a writer or a group of writers targeted for free expression. Previous recipients, many of whom have since been freed, have come from Ukraine, Egypt and Ethiopia among other countries.

Abdulaziz, al-Hathloul, and al-Nafjan have openly opposed such government policies as a ban on women driving and the restriction of women’s travel, education and other rights without the permission of a male guardian. The PEN award comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of Saudi Arabia, since the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last fall.

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