Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch called on Saudi Arabia to allow international monitors to see women's rights activists it has detained since May in light of the way the country handled information surrounding the death of U.S. journalist and Saudi native Jamal Khashoggi.
The New York-based international human rights group charged Thursday that it has received information that Saudi authorities have tortured and sexually harassed four activists, the latest last month. While Saudi officials have denied such actions, Human Rights Watch said that they cannot be trusted.
Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed in early October after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul where he was expected to obtain a document so he could be married to his fiancée.
Saudi officials first claimed Khashoggi left the embassy, then changed the story after Turkey officials said that it had audio evidence that the journalist was killed and dismembered. His body has never been recovered.
Since an investigation, where it took Saudi officials a month to confirm the writer's death in its own consulate and charged 11 in the case, the CIA said it believed that the order to kill Khashoggi came from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi have denied the prince's involvement.
"Saudi Arabia's consistent lies about senior officials' role in Jamal Khashoggi's murder mean that the government's denials that it tortured these women activists are not nearly good enough," Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said in its statement.
"Unless independent monitors are able to confirm the women activists' well-being, there is every reason to believe that the Saudi authorities have treated them with unspeakable cruelty," he continued.
Human Rights Watch said all of the women activists are being held at the Dhahban Mabahith Prison north of Jeddah, but their mistreatment happened at a location called the "officer's guesthouse."
The organization said that the claims included forced hugging and kissing and exposure to sexually suggestive gestures, along with threats of rape.
The Guardian reported in May that the Saudi authorities had arrested at least 10 activists, mostly connected with those advocating for the women's right to drive in the country, as part of an escalating shutdown of dissent before ending the prohibition the following month.