Over 50,000 people call on UK ambassador in Saudi Arabia to intervene in jailed blogger’s case
One year after Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in jail, Amnesty International has joined with his wife to renew appeals for his immediate and unconditional release.
Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of her husband, has issued an impassioned plea to the Saudi Arabian authorities for his release.
Ensaf Haidar said:
“A year ago you sentenced my husband to ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes. Four months ago you flogged him in public as if he was a nasty criminal.
“Expressing one’s opinion is not a crime. I urge King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to release my husband immediately and end his suffering.
“I am extremely grateful for the international support for my husband’s case which I believe has helped save him from further lashings, but the truth is, this achievement alone is not enough. Raif is still languishing in prison, each day not knowing what tomorrow will bring. It’s time for him to be free and to be reunited with his family once more.”
Amnesty is urging the international community and in particular Saudi Arabia’s western allies to press the authorities to release Badawi and dozens of other prisoners of conscience who remain unjustly imprisoned in the Kingdom’s jails. Over 50,000 people have supported an Amnesty call
on the UK’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia to intervene in his case.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said:
“It is truly tragic that a whole year has passed since Raif Badawi received this cruel and unjust sentence.
“It is not enough for the Saudi Arabian authorities to suspend the public floggings in a bid to escape international criticism and sweep Raif Badawi’s case under the carpet.
“As long as the sentence stands he remains unjustly imprisoned and at risk of flogging, casting a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record. It is high time his conviction is quashed and for the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.”
Flogged 50 times
On 9 January Raif Badawi received 50 lashes after Friday prayers in a public square in Jeddah, prompting an international outcry. For two subsequent weeks his flogging was called off based on medical advice. He has not been flogged since, and the authorities have not disclosed the reasons why. He remains at risk.
Badawi was sentenced to ten years in jail, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million riyals (£175,000) by Jeddah’s criminal court on 7 May 2014 for setting up an online forum for public debate. He is an Amnesty prisoner of conscience and a global campaign has been initiated calling for his release, gathering the support of more than a million people worldwide.