A chauffeur prepares to drive her car in Riyadh in June. More than a dozen Saudi activists who fought for her right to take the wheel were arrested in May, shortly before the decades-long ban on females driving in the kingdom was lifted. Photo: AFP

Reports that detained activists, including women, faced molestation and torture during interrogation in Saudi Arabia are “baseless,” Riyadh officials claimed Friday.

The government said in a statement that it “strongly denies” the accusations, which are “simply wrong.”

It added, “These recent reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are baseless.”

The activists, held since May in Dhahban prison on the Red Sea coast, have faced repeated electrocution and flogging, rendering some of the women unable to stand or walk, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, citing three separate testimonies.

At least one activist was made to hang from a ceiling, Amnesty added.

In addition to the torture, at least three women activists also endured “forcible kissing and hugging,” Human Rights Watch said in a separate statement also on Tuesday.

The reports came as Saudi Arabia faces intense global criticism over the killing of insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate on October 2.

More than a dozen activists were arrested in May – just before the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on women driving vehicles the following month.

Many of the women were accused of undermining national security and aiding what the regime calls enemies of the state. Some were later released.

– With reporting from Agence France-Presse

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