MEFD condemns conviction of Saudi activist

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi

London, 8 May (MEFD)

Local media has reported that Jeddah’s criminal court has sentenced a Saudi Arabian activist and blogger, Raif Badawi, to 10 years imprisonment, 1,000 lashes and commanded him to pay a fine of 1 million riyals (£133,000) for “insulting Islam” and setting up a liberal web forum.

Raif Badawi, who is the co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, was arrested in 2012 by the Saudi authorities on charges of breaching Saudi Arabia’s IT law and insulting the religious establishment through his blogs and his Saudi Arabian Liberals website.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, however, in December last year, his sentence was overturned by a court of appeal and sent to Jeddah’s Criminal Court for review. The initial charge against Raif Badawi was “apostasy”, a crime which carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International emphasised in a recent statement that “Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia. The authorities seem determined to crush all forms of dissent through every means at their disposal, including imposing harsh prison sentences and corporal punishment on activists”.

Middle East Forum for Development condemns in the strongest terms the conviction of Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned for exercising the right to freedom of expression, and joins other human rights groups across the world in calling on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.


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