A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia's religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh, according to a report in The Times of London on Thursday.
Yara, who does not want her last name published for fear of retribution, was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom's "Mutaween" police, The Times reported.
"Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked 'Why are you here together?'. I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin," recalled Yara, who wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women.
The men were from Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.
Yara says she was interrogated, strip-searched and forced to sign and fingerprint a series of confessions pleading guilty to her "crime," the Times reported.
Yara was visited this week by officials from the American Embassy, who promised they would file a report.