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Saudi Arabia. 10-year travel ban for freed blogger Raif Badawi | Human Rights News

Badawi, a prominent human rights activist who spent 10 years in prison, was arrested in 2012 and charged with “insulting Islam”.

Saudi Arabia has upheld a 10-year travel ban on freed blogger and activist Raif Badawi, who has become a symbol of freedom of expression around the world.

Badawi, now 38, arrested and imprisoned in Saudi Arabia in 2012 for “insulting Islam”, was released on Friday.

An Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the AFP news agency on Saturday: “The sentence given to Raif was 10 years in prison followed by a travel ban. for the same duration.The decision of the court stands and is final.

The official added: “He cannot leave the kingdom for 10 years unless a [royal] grace is delivered.

At the end of 2014, Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 50 lashes per week for 20 weeks.

His first flogging in the kingdom’s Jeddah Square was described by the United Nations as “cruel and inhumane”. After the outcry, he was no longer whipped.

Badawi’s sister, Samar Badawi, was arrested in July 2018, along with more than a dozen other activists, on suspicion of harming Saudi interests. She was released last year.

‘Finally free

The province of Quebec in Canada has paved the way for Badawi to take refuge in the country if he wishes by placing him on a priority list of potential immigrants for humanitarian reasons.

“Finally!” Quebec Premier François Legault tweeted on Friday about his release, adding, “I can’t stop thinking about the children who will finally see their father!”

Known for his writings in favor of freedom of expression, the blogger won the 2014 Reporters Without Borders prize in the netizen category.

He also received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom from the European Parliament in 2015.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has taken a tough stance on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, which came under intense scrutiny after the October 2018 murder of the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

In rare public criticism, the United States urged the kingdom on March 8 to review “prisoners of conscience” cases and lift travel bans and other restrictions on women’s rights activists previously released from prison.