'Saudi Arabia on Thursday released three out of 11 women arrested last year in a sweeping crackdown on activists.
The detainees were facing charges related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats, three sources familiar with the matter said.
The released trio are Dr. Rokaya Mohareb, who taught at Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, grandmother and former professor Aziza al-Youssef and mother-of-four and linguistics professor Eman al-Nafjan.
London-based rights group ALQST confirmed the news of their release on Twitter.
Two sources said the rest would be freed on Sunday. The conditions of their freedom remain unclear.
The 11 women on trial in Riyadh were taken from their homes in the Saudi capital 10 months ago and transferred to Jeddah just weeks before the kingdom lifted its ban on females driving.
When detailing their defence on Wednesday the women detailed the horrifying physical and sexual abuse they were allegedly subjected to by masked interrogators.
Among those still detained is Loujain al-Hathloul, an outspoken rights activist who was pursuing a master's degree in the United Arab Emirates before her family says she was abducted and forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia last year.
The fact that al-Hathloul once applied for a job at the United Nations is part of the kingdom's case against, CNN reports.
The six-page charge against her also lists contact with rights' groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch among her alleged 'crimes'.
Yesterday one of the detained women told the panel of three judges that several men, who seemed intoxicated, appeared late one night and took her from her place of detention in Jeddah to a nearby secret location.'
Read more: Saudi Arabia begins releasing women activists in surprise move after court heard interrogators flogged and groped them as it emerges one was charged for applying for a job at the UN
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