Freed Australian denies North Korean spy charges, says no plans to return

An Australian student Alek Sigley, 29, who was detained in North Korea, departs from Beijing to Japan, at the Beijing international airport, China, July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – The Australian student released last week after being detained in North Korea said on Tuesday Pyongyang’s accusation that he was a spy was “pretty obviously” false, but that his work in the country was probably over.

Alek Sigley, 29, who was studying in the North Korean capital, had been missing since June 25 before he was abruptly expelled from the country on July 4 after Swedish officials helped broker his release.

North Korean state media later issued a statement saying Sigley had admitted to committing “spying acts” by working with foreign media, including NK News, a website that specializes in North Korea.

“The allegation that I am a spy is (pretty obviously) false. The only material I gave to NK News was what was published publicly on the blog, and the same goes for other media outlets,” Sigley said in a Tweet on Tuesday.

Sigley went on to say “the whole situation makes me very sad”, since he would be unable to complete the master’s degree he had been pursuing at Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University.

“I am still very interested in North Korea and want to continue academic research and other work related to the country,” he said in another tweet. “But I currently have no plans to visit the country again, at least in the short term.”

His company, Tongil Tours, would be canceling all tours to North Korea until further notice, Sigley added.

“I may never again walk the streets of Pyongyang, a city that holds a very special place in my heart,” he wrote. “I may never again see my teachers and my partners in the travel industry, whom I’ve come to consider close friends. But that’s life.”

(Reporting by Josh Smith; editing by Nick Macfiem, Larry King)

U.N. decries Russia jailing of Dane in Jehovah’s Witnesses case

FILE PHOTO: Dennis Christensen, a Jehovah's Witness accused of extremism, leaves after a court session in handcuffs in the town of Oryol, Russia January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Osborn/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) – The top United Nations human rights official said on Thursday the harsh prison sentence Russia imposed on a Danish follower of the Jehovah’s Witnesses created a dangerous precedent and violated international law guaranteeing freedom of religion.

A Russian court on Wednesday found Dennis Christensen, an adherent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, guilty of organizing a banned extremist group and jailed him for six years.

“The harsh sentence imposed on Christensen creates a dangerous precedent and effectively criminalizes the right to freedom of religion or belief for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia in contravention of the State’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

Armed police detained Christensen, a 46-year-old builder, in May 2017 at a prayer meeting in Oryol, about 200 miles (320 km) south of Moscow after a regional court had outlawed the local Jehovah’s Witnesses a year earlier.

Russia’s Supreme Court later ruled the group was “extremist” and ordered it to disband nationwide.

With about 170,000 followers in Russia and 8 million worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian denomination known for door-to-door preaching, close Bible study, and rejection of military service and blood transfusions.

Christiansen’s detention, Russia’s first extremism-related arrest of a Jehovah’s Witness, foreshadowed dozens more with criminal cases opened against over 100 members of the group, Bachelet said.

At least 18 have been held in pre-trial detention and some have been subjected to house arrest and travel restrictions.

Bachelet urged Russia to revise its laws on combating extremist activity “with a view to clarifying the vague and open-ended definition of extremist activity, and ensuring that the definition requires an element of violence or hatred”.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Ed Osmond)

Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy ‘secure’, out of jail

Supporters of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a coalition of religious-political parties, hold flags and chant slogans as they attend a million march rally, after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, in Karachi, Pakistan November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

By Asif Shahzad and Mubasher Bukhari

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – A Pakistani Christian woman has been freed from prison a week after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction and death sentence for blasphemy against Islam, and she is at a secure location in the country, officials said on Thursday.

Officials dismissed some media reports that the woman, Asia Bibi, had been flown abroad, which would enrage hardline Islamists who have been protesting against her release and calling for her to be banned from leaving.

The release overnight of the mother of five prompted immediate anger from an Islamist party that has threatened to paralyze the country with street protests if her acquittal is not reversed.

Bibi, 53, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 over allegations she made derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

She always denied having committed blasphemy.

The case has outraged Christians worldwide, and Pope Francis met Bibi’s family this year, saying he prayed for her. Italy said on Tuesday it would try to help Bibi, who is Catholic, to leave Pakistan.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied reports that Bibi had left the country and pointed out that a review of the Supreme Court decision to free her was pending.

“Asia Bibi is completely secure at a safe place in Pakistan,” said ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal.

“Her writ is in court, when that is decided, Asia Bibi can go anywhere she wants to, she is a free national … if she wants to go abroad, no harm in it.”

In Rome, the Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said Bibi has been able to see her husband in an undisclosed location.

Their daughters were “close by” but had not yet seen their mother as of early afternoon, Pakistan time.

The agency, which arranged a meeting for Bibi’s husband and daughter with Pope Francis at the Vatican this year, said the family was awaiting visas but declined to disclose from which country for security reasons.

Insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95 percent Muslim and has among the harshest blasphemy laws in the world.

No executions for blasphemy have been carried out in Pakistan but enraged mobs sometimes kill people accused of blasphemy.

Rights groups say the blasphemy law is exploited by hardliners as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.

Christians make up about 2 percent of the population.


Security officials told Reuters early on Thursday that Bibi had been released from a prison in Multan, a city in the south of Punjab province.

She was flown to Islamabad and was in protective custody because of threats to her life, said three officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bibi’s lawyer, who has fled Pakistan and this week sought asylum in the Netherlands, confirmed she was no longer in prison.

“All I can tell you is that she has been released,” lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook told Reuters by phone from the Netherlands, where the government said on Thursday it had offered him temporary asylum.

A spokesman for the hard-line Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party, which took to the streets after the Supreme Court ruling, said her release violated a deal with the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to end the protests.

“The TLP activists are agitated as the government has breached the agreement with our party. The rulers have showed their dishonesty,” party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters.

Under the deal, the government said it would not block a petition to the Supreme Court to review Bibi’s acquittal in light of sharia, Islamic religious law, the TLP said.

It also said the government promised to work to ensure Bibi could not leave the country.

If the government allows Bibi to leave, it would likely face more paralyzing protests from the TLP and other Islamist parties.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Saad Sayeed in ISLAMABAD, and Philip Pullella in ROME, Bart Meijer in AMSTERDAM; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Grant McCool, Robert Birsel)

Iraq jails French and German citizens for life for joining Islamic State

FILE PHOTO: An Iraqi student walks past a school wall covered with drawings showing how Islamic State militants executed their prisoners in Mosul, Iraq April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal/File Photo

By Raya Jalabi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – An Iraqi court sentenced a French man and a German woman to life in prison on Monday for belonging to Islamic State, forging ahead with the trial of hundreds of people – many foreigners – captured after the militant group’s defeat last year.

French citizen Lahcen Ammar Gueboudj, in his 50s, and the German, Nadia Rainer Hermann, 22, had both pleaded not guilty to joining the hardline Islamist group that captured a third of Iraq and swathes of Syria in 2014.

Though Gueboudj and Hermann were tried individually, they were brought out for sentencing with 13 others tried on Monday, crowding the small courtroom.

During Gueboudj’s roughly 30-minute trial, he said he had only come to the region to retrieve his son who had joined Islamic State and had been living in its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.

“I would never have left France if my son hadn’t been in Syria,” he told the judge, through a translator, in Baghdad’s Central Criminal Court.

“I know I’m crazy to have gone to Syria.”

Speaking to Reuters in French through the bars of a holding cell outside the courtroom before he was sentenced, a disheveled Gueboudj said he had signed papers he had not understood were a confession during the investigation.

Hermann and Gueboudj both told Reuters they had spoken to consular staff only once since being detained in 2017. They had court-appointed lawyers present on Monday but had neither met with nor spoken to them, they said. The sentences can be appealed.

Embassy staff and translators from both countries attended Monday’s hearing.

Hermann was sentenced in January to a year in jail for entering Iraq illegally.

Asked by the judge whether she believed in Islamic State’s ideology, she said no. However, she earlier admitted to the judge that she had received a salary of 50,000 Iraqi dinars ($42) per month, which confirmed her membership to the group.

“This whole process is confusing,” Hermann, who wore a blue prison uniform over a black abaya and a grey headscarf, told Reuters before the verdict, speaking in German from the holding cell, in the presence of Iraqi prison guards.

Hermann was the only woman being tried on charges relating to Islamic State on Monday. Iraq has been prosecuting women of various nationalities for months and was sentencing roughly 10 women a day at the peak of trials in the spring.

Around 20 foreign women, including nationals of Turkey, Germany, and Azerbaijan, have been sentenced to death for membership of Islamic State.

(Reporting by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Prominent Saudi women’s rights activist detained as driving ban lifted: sources

FILE PHOTO: Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi, author of "Women in Pre-Islamic Arabia: Nabataea" looks at the camera during an interview at her residence in Riyadh April 20, 2008. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed/File Photo

By Sarah Dadouch

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has detained prominent women’s rights advocate Hatoon al-Fassi, widening a crackdown that has ensnared more than a dozen activists even as the kingdom lifted a ban on women driving, sources said on Wednesday.

London-based Saudi rights group ALQST and exiled activist Manal al-Sharif reported the arrest on Twitter, but provided few details. It was confirmed by sources in touch with people close to Fassi, who said they were scared of speaking out.

An Interior Ministry spokesman and the government’s communications office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fassi was last active online on Thursday. She was planning to take journalists in her car on Sunday as other women did to celebrate the much-hyped end of the world’s last ban on female drivers, long seen as an emblem of women’s repression in the deeply conservative Muslim country.

The ban’s end, ordered last September by King Salman, is part of sweeping reforms pushed by his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a bid to transform the economy of the world’s top oil exporter and open up its cloistered society.

But it has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent against some of the very activists who previously campaigned against the ban, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef as well as the men Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, Mohammad al-Rabea and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said earlier this month that a total of 17 people had been arrested, eight of whom were later released. The authorities accused them of suspicious contacts with “foreign entities” and said more suspects were being sought. Local media labeled them traitors.

At least nine people remain in detention “after sufficient evidence was made available and for their confessions of charges attributed to them”.

Fassi is an associate professor at King Saud University and a regular contributor to Saudi Arabia’s al-Riyadh newspaper. She has long been a champion for women’s rights, including the right to drive. Her husband is a prominent Gulf Cooperation Council official.

Fassi tweeted on June 6 that she had received her Saudi driving license along with a small group of women who converted their permits obtained in foreign countries.

“It is as if I have been recognized as an equal citizen,” she told English-language newspaper Arab News last week. “Celebrating will be the first aim, then I will see where I need to go on that day.”

(Additional Reporting by Stephen Kalin, Editing by Stephen Kalin and William Maclean)

Migrants risk death crossing Alpine mountains to reach France

Abdullhai, 38, from Guinea, is helped by a friend as they try to cross part of the Alps mountain range from Italy into France, near the town of Bardonecchia, in northern Italy, December 21, 2017.

By Siegfried Modola

BARDONECCHIA, Italy (Reuters) – It took Abdullhai almost three years to get from his home in Guinea to a rocky, snow-covered Alpine mountain pass in the dead of winter, for what he hopes will be the final stage of his journey into France.

The terrain is steep and dangerous and he and a group of five other migrants face risks ranging from losing their footing on steep drops, being struck by falling rocks or succumbing to the -9C (15°F) temperatures in clothing ill-suited to the terrain.

Abdullhai, 38, is one of hundreds of migrants who over the last year have attempted to cross from Italy into France through high mountain passes, in a bid to evade increased border security put in place at easier crossing points. His group crossed into France in December.

In Guinea, he left behind his wife and three children, including a two-year old son whom he has never seen.

“Our life in Guinea is not good,” said Abdullhai, 38, who like his friends asked that his last name not be published in this story.

“There is no work there and no future for my children. Here in Europe we can have a future. We can find work and live a life with some dignity. This is worth a try for me.”

A migrant rests after crossing part of the Alps mountain range from Italy into France, near the town of Nevache in southeastern France, December 21, 2017.

A migrant rests after crossing part of the Alps mountain range from Italy into France, near the town of Nevache in southeastern France, December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

The number of migrants making perilous journeys has fallen since over one million arrived in Europe from the Middle East and Africa in 2015. There were 171,635 arrivals by boat officially recorded in 2017, down from 363,504 in 2016.

As the group huddled around a fire in a cave during a rest on their journey, others told stories of being jailed and tortured, or of being orphaned and looking at uncertain futures in their home country.

The crossings have become more perilous with heavy snowfall.

On Jan. 10, Reuters spoke with three migrants, a 24-year-old Senegalese man, a 31-year-old man from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a 37-year-old from Pakistan who were attempting to cross into France.

They managed to cross the border, but abandoned their trek, exhausted and despondent, and were returned to Italy.

But they are at least alive. The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 20,000 people have died in the Mediterranean itself while trying to reach Italy.

Nor does it compare to the hardships that some of those making the journey have already endured to get as far as they have.

Discarded clothes are seen by a mountain pass near the Italian-French border from where migrants have attempted to pass into France, near the Mediterranean coastal town of Ventimiglia in northern Italy,

Discarded clothes are seen by a mountain pass near the Italian-French border from where migrants have attempted to pass into France, near the Mediterranean coastal town of Ventimiglia in northern Italy, December 2, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

“I was imprisoned and tortured in Libya for many months. I was forced to work for free. Just look at my scars,” said Kamarra, 28, from Guinea, lifting his shirt and pulling down his trousers at the side to show marks on his body and hip.

“After all that, crossing the Alps is not a big deal for me.”

For a photo essay about the migrant crossings, click here:

(Additional reporting by Eleanor Biles; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

After four months jail, Turkey’s Amnesty director says trial is ‘surreal’

Idil Eser, the director of Amnesty in Turkey, poses during an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey, October 31, 2017.

By Ece Toksabay

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Amnesty International’s Turkey director, freed from four months detention but still facing trial on terrorism charges, said the case against her and other human rights activists was “absurd and surreal”.

Idil Eser was one of eight activists freed last week on bail, in a case which has become a flash-point in Turkey’s tense relations with Europe. Their trial has brought condemnation from rights groups and some Western governments concerned by what they see as creeping authoritarianism in the NATO member state.

The activists were detained by police in July as they attended a workshop on digital security and information management on an island near Istanbul.

The charge against them, of aiding a terrorist organization, is similar to those leveled against tens of thousands of Turks detained since a failed military coup by rogue soldiers in July 2016, in which at least 240 people were killed.

“I cannot even find words to describe the absurdity, the surreality of the situation. It’s total nonsense,” Eser said when asked about the charges. She was speaking to Reuters in her first interview since being released.

Turkey rejects foreign criticism of the trials and says its judiciary operates independently of the government.

“Turkey is a state of law and our judges are independent and impartial,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters earlier this week when asked about the case.

At the time of the activists’ detention, President Tayyip Erdogan said the eight had gathered on the island for a meeting “that might be considered as a follow-up” to last year’s failed coup, which he has cast as part of a foreign-backed plot.

Erdogan was quoted by several Turkish newspapers on Thursday as telling reporters on his plane that the judiciary was acting independently in the case. “We cannot know how the court will rule in the end,” the Hurriyet newspaper quoted him as saying.



The indictment also brought charges against Swedish national Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, a German, prompting an angry response from Berlin, which threatened to put curbs on economic investment in Turkey and said it was reviewing arms projects.

The day after their release last week, Steudtner and Gharavi left Turkey, but the trial continues on Nov. 22. Prosecutors have sought jail sentences of up to 15 years for all of the defendants.

Steudtner and Gharavi told the court during the trial that they were shocked by the allegations against them. They could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Authorities have jailed more than 50,000 people pending trial in a crackdown following the abortive coup. Erdogan says the purges across society are necessary to maintain stability in Turkey, a NATO member state bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria.

European allies fear he is using the investigations to check opposition and undermine the judiciary.

Eser said her time in jail had marked a turning point in her life. Less than a week after her release, the 54-year-old made an appointment at a tattoo parlor in central Istanbul.

“With other defendants, we had decided to go to a Turkish bath when we got out, and the other decision was to get a tattoo,” she said. “So I started right away.”


(Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Nick Tattersall)


Turkish journalist denies sending subliminal message on eve of coup

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a fast-breaking iftar dinner at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, June 20, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

By Ece Toksabay

ANKARA (Reuters) – A prominent Turkish journalist denied on Wednesday that he sent out subliminal messages to coup plotters who tried to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan last year, saying he had been put on trial for a crime which did not exist.

Mehmet Altan, an economics professor and journalist, and his brother Ahmet were detained in September and charged with giving coded messages in a television talk show a day before the abortive July 15 military coup, according to state media.

The brothers both face potential life sentences if convicted in their trial, which opened this week.

They have denied the charges, saying it was ridiculous to interpret their comments in the program – during which Mehmet Altan talked about the long history of military involvement in Turkish politics – as incitement to overthrow the government.

“If Rousseau were alive today and had shared his views on TV, he would be taken into custody for giving subliminal messages,” Altan told the court, referring to enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

“There were no subliminal messages on that TV program… I have been detained for a non-existent message, over a non-existent crime,” he said according to a copy of his defense statement posted online.

The government blames followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the coup, and has waged a crackdown on suspected Gulen supporters since then.

Some 150,000 police, soldiers, judges and civil servants have been sacked or suspended, drawing criticism from rights groups and Western allies who fear an attempt to silence dissent. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested.

Turkish officials reject the criticism, saying the extent of the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the threat to the Turkish state in the wake of the coup attempt, when soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets, bombing parliament and other key buildings in an attempt to seize power.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup, and Altan said he had no knowledge of it.

“Surely I wasn’t aware of the coup attempt. I know that I stand here today just because I did not applaud the slaughter of democracy by the government,” he told the court.

Rights groups have voiced concerns over the trial of the Altans, who are among 100 journalists detained in the last year.

“There is no possible causal link between the defendants’ news articles and the failed coup of July 2016,” said Gabrielle Guillemin from the British rights group Article 19, adding that the charges were part of a “politically motivated campaign of harassment against journalists and other dissenting voices”.

The TV show’s presenter, Nazli Ilicak, a journalist, columnist and former lawmaker, was also arrested. “I am not an enemy of Erdogan. I am just an opponent. Is it a crime to oppose?” Ilicak told the same court a day earlier.

More than 200 writers worldwide, including Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks and JM Coetzee, and other public figures have signed a petition protesting against the arrests of the Altans.

In his comments on the television program the day before the coup attempt, Mehmet Altan referred to “another structure” within the Turkish state which he said was closely watching developments.

“It is not certain when it will take its hand out of the bag and how it will take its hand out of the bag,” Altan had said.

(Editing by Dominic Evans and Richard Balmforth)

Executives from top Turkish conglomerate held in post-coup probe

Dogan Holding logo

By Ceyda Caglayan

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Police detained the top legal advisor and a former chief executive of Dogan Holding, one of Turkey’s biggest conglomerates, on Thursday in an investigation into the network of the U.S.-based cleric blamed for a failed coup.

Authorities have detained, dismissed or suspended some 120,000 people including soldiers, police officers, teachers, judges and journalists since the July coup attempt, although thousands have since been restored to their posts.

Companies with ties to the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom President Tayyip Erdogan and the government accuse of orchestrating the coup attempt, have also been targeted in the crackdown. Hundreds of companies, for the most part smaller provincial firms, have been seized.

Dogan – which has interests in media, finance, energy and tourism and owns newspaper Hurriyet and broadcaster CNN Turk – said the raids were on the personal offices and homes of the two individuals and that its operations were unaffected.

Last month, another Dogan Holding executive, Barbaros Muratoglu, was remanded in custody on an accusation of “aiding a terror group” as part of an investigation into Gulen. Ankara refers to the cleric’s network of followers as the “Gulenist Terror Organisation”.

In its statement to the Istanbul stock exchange, Dogan said Thursday’s detentions were part of the same investigation.

“The search has been carried out solely in the personal offices of the mentioned executives and there is no situation that has an impact on the operations of our company or its subsidiaries,” the statement said.


Dogan’s founder, Aydin Dogan, developed a glass commercial and residential complex called Trump Towers Istanbul which soars over a commercial district in the city. Dogan pays U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for the brand name.

Turkey wants Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, extradited and has been infuriated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to hand him over.

It is hoping that a Trump administration will be more willing to do so. U.S. officials have said the issue is a judicial matter, not a political one.

Dogan shares initially fell as much as 9.9 percent after the market opened, and were down almost 5 percent by 1145 GMT in high-volume trading. Hurriyet shares fell as much as 7.6 percent.

Aydin Dogan is a prominent figure in Turkey’s secular establishment and has had strained ties with Erdogan and the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party in the past. His group has faced multibillion-dollar tax fines.

More than 240 people were killed in the failed coup in July and the government says the extent of the subsequent crackdown, including on business suspected of links to Gulen, is justified by the gravity of the threat to the state.

More than 41,000 people have been jailed pending trial.

Dogan Holding itself has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing and has disavowed links to Gulen.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Kentucky Clerk Appeals Jail Order

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, has appealed the contempt in court ruling that put her in jail last week.

“As a prisoner of her conscience, Davis continues to request a simple accommodation and exemption from Governor Beshear, who is overseeing Kentucky marriage policy,” the appeal states.

Davis is represented by the non-profit legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel, who officially appealed the decision Sunday with a three page motion that doesn’t list why she should be released, but amends Davis’ earlier appeal of the judge’s order. However, her reasons for refusing to issue marriage licenses were clear as she has repeatedly stated that she does not support same-sex marriage due to her religious beliefs. The Liberty Counsel argues that her religious beliefs are not being protected.

“The governor’s refusal to take elementary steps to protect religious liberties has now landed Kim Davis in jail,” Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said.

In June, Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Davis was sued by two homosexual couples and two straight couples. U.S. District Judge David Bunning, with the support of the Supreme Court, sided with the couples and ordered Davis to issue the licenses.

Davis still refused to issue marriage licenses, which led to Bunning ruling that Davis was in contempt of court for disobeying his order and Davis being sent to jail. However, the couples who sued Davis did not intend her for her to be jailed according to their attorney, Daniel Canon.

While Davis is behind bars, five of her deputies have agreed to hand out marriage licenses in her absence.

“Civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” said James Yates, who was able to receive a marriage license on Friday after being denied five times.

Davis has now been in jail for five days, but Bunning stated that she could be in jail for a week or longer if she continues to refuse the his orders. Bunning has offered to release Davis as long as she allows her deputy clerks to continue handing out marriage licenses, but Davis refused.

“She’s not going to resign, she’s not going to sacrifice her conscience, so she’s doing what Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, which is to pay the consequences for her decision,” Mat Staver, one of Davis’ attorneys, said.

Staver added that Davis will remain in jail until a compromise is reached. He stated that his client would be willing to hand out marriage licenses if her name was removed from the licenses. The legislature could vote for the removal of clerks’ names from licenses, but the legislation won’t be in until January. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear stated last week that he wouldn’t call for a special session because it would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.”

The case has brought protests and rallies for each side. On Saturday, approximately 200 supporters of Davis’ decision gathered and prayed on Saturday. Several even shouted “Thank you, Kim” repeatedly and held up signs that read “Kim Davis for President.”

GOP Presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, has also openly supported Kim Davis and her decision. The former Arkansas governor plans to visit Davis and rally her supporters on Tuesday.

As for Davis, her attorneys say that she is in a cell by herself. She has been occupying her time by studying her Bible while in jail.