DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Police have detained a Saudi columnist who supported ending his country's ban on women driving, activists said Wednesday.
The activists, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said Tariq al-Mubarak was called by investigators concerning a stolen car over the weekend. When he arrived at the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigation Department on Sunday, he was interrogated instead about his role in a campaign launched by reformers seeking the right of women to drive in the kingdom.
When his friends were informed they could pick him up at the investigator's office, they too were detained for several hours and questioned over the campaign's activities, activists said.
Human Rights Watch and activists who know al-Mubarak say he remains in detention with no access to a lawyer. The New York-based organization called for al-Mubarak's immediate release and on authorities "to stop harassing and trying to intimidate activists and women who defied the driving ban."
The spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Mansour al-Turki, could not be reached for comment.