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Saudi Arabia: Blogger Raif Badawi still in prison after serving his ten-year sentence

Protesters outside the Saudi Embassy in London in 2015 © Amnesty International

A human rights defender was whipped 50 times in a public square in Jeddah in 2015

Authorities have trumpeted ‘reforms’ in the Kingdom as Badawi languishes in jail

“Raif Badawi spent a decade behind bars solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression” – Heba Morayef

Responding to news that Saudi blogger Raif Badawi remains in detention after serving an unjust 10-year sentence earlier this week (March 1), Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa says from the North, Heba Morayef:

“Raif Badawi’s continued detention reveals the Saudi authorities’ utter disregard for the right to liberty, freedom of expression and even their own laws.

“Raif Badawi spent a decade behind bars solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

“The Saudi authorities must ensure his immediate and unconditional release and lift the illegal travel ban imposed on him so that he can finally be reunited with his family.

“The Saudi authorities’ crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression must end. Raif Badawi and all prisoners of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising their human rights must be released immediately and unconditionally.

The heavy sentence included 1,000 lashes

Raif Badawi – a prominent blogger and Saudi human rights defender – was arbitrarily detained solely for peacefully expressing his views. He was arrested on June 17, 2012 and sentenced in 2014 to ten years in prison – followed by a ten-year travel ban and a £200,000 fine – for creating an online forum for public debate. Among other things, Badawi was accused of insulting Islam.

Badawi’s case attracted international attention after it was whipped 50 times in a public square in Jeddah on January 9, 2015, part of an additional sentence of 1,000 lashes.

In recent years, the Saudi authorities have invested heavily in public relations efforts to rebrand their image and attempt to distract from their brutal crackdown on activists and human rights defenders. Although there was a brief lull in executions and prosecutions of activists during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 summit in late 2020, this ended immediately after the event when authorities rise in power their repression once again.

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