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Wife hopes Saudi blogger Raif Badawi will be freed soon

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s family say they expect him to be released soon as he nears the end of his 10-year sentence for advocating an end to religious influence on public life in Saudi Arabia .

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s family say they expect him to be released soon as he nears the end of his 10-year sentence for advocating an end to religious influence on public life in Saudi Arabia .

Having become a symbol of freedom of expression, the 38-year-old man could be released on Monday, suggested his wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with their children. AFP – although no date has yet been given by Riyadh.

“Like us, he counted the days, the weeks, the months, the years (to mark the end of his sentence),” she said. “But he has no exact date, no details, no news.”

Ottawa declined to comment on when Badawi might be released, but said it remains “extremely concerned” about his case and has frequently asked Saudi Arabia to grant him clemency.

The winner of the Reporters Without Borders press freedom prize was arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia in 2012 for “insulting Islam” and was sentenced at the end of 2014 to 10 years in prison.

Haidar fled to Canada, while continuing to press for her husband’s release. She lives with their three children in Sherbrooke, east of Montreal.

In an interview with AFP, she described maintaining contact with Badawi in prison, speaking with him by telephone “up to three times a week”.

“It wasn’t easy for me, the only choices I had: to be positive, not to sit idly by, to knock on every door for Raif’s release,” she said.

She added that she was encouraged by an outpouring of support from “everywhere” that helped her feel like she was “not alone” in the fight for her freedom.

Every Friday for nearly seven years, Haidar has held a public vigil for Badawi. Last Friday was the 374th and – she hoped – possibly the last, held in the middle of a Canadian blizzard.

“I hope one day to live normally with my children and my husband,” she says.

Amnesty International’s Colette Lelievre, however, noted that Badawi faces a 10-year travel ban after his release, which could prevent him from being reunited with his wife and children in Canada for some time.