The Saudi government is hunting down women who flee the country by tracking the IMEI number on their cellphones

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Soldiers checking the IMEI number of a mobile phone during a regional anti-insurgent operation in Mali. Reuters

  • Saudi Arabia is using military-grade technology to track down the cellphones of women who flee its patriarchal system, several runaways have told INSIDER.
  • Four women, all speaking anonymously for fear of reprisal, said they were made aware of attempts to track their cellphones via their IMEI number.
  • The unique ID number can pinpoint a phone virtually anywhere but is rarely used by civilians. The US military uses IMEIs to direct drone strikes.
  • The technique shows how seriously Saudi Arabia takes the escalating numbers of women fleeing its repressive, male-dominated society.
  • Saudi authorities declined to respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment.

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