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RSF and the Giordano Bruno Foundation call for the release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

The silence of the Saudi authorities is endless. Badawi is still being held despite having served his 10-year sentence for “insulting Islam” which he received on appeal in 2014.

Badawi’s detention has always been considered arbitrary by RSF, by the Giordano Bruno Foundation, which awarded him its Deschner Prize in 2016, and by many other international organizations. It is now illegal even under Saudi law.

RSF has learned that European Union governments are currently negotiating with Saudi authorities over his possible release. More than one source spoke of “encouraging signs” that he could be released this month.

But civil society organizations that have campaigned for Badawi are frustrated by the lack of response from Saudi officials, who have so far given no official confirmation or announced a specific date for his release. RSF contacted the Saudi authorities several times to obtain explanations and news from Badawi, but without success.

The continued detention of Raif Badawi is outrageous, after a 10-year sentence he should never have been forced to serve,said RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire.By keeping him detained, the Saudi authorities are adding to their long list of crimes against freedom of the press. Enough is enough – public debates are not crimes, and journalism is not a crime. Badawi must be freed without further delay!

Many of the reforms demanded by Raif 10 years ago have now been implemented by the Saudi royal family itself,said Giordano Bruno Foundation spokesman Michael Schmidt-Salomon.We therefore hope that the Saudi authorities recognize this and give Raif the opportunity to finally see his wife and children again after this long period.

Added to the lack of transparency from the Saudi authorities is confusion over the timetable used by the Saudi judicial system. Saudi authorities use the Hijri calendar, also known as the Islamic calendar, instead of the Gregorian calendar used by most countries around the world.

Badawi served a total of ten hijri years in prison on 26 Rajab 1443, equivalent to February 28, 2022. But, as he was arrested on June 17, 2012, his release date according to the Gregorian calendar would be June 17, 2022 .

Saudi Arabia is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.