Saudi blogger Raif Badawi released from prison | Human Rights News

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, said she spoke to Badawi, who has served a 10-year sentence for “insulting Islam”.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been released from prison in Saudi Arabia after serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with the couple’s three children, announced the news on Twitter, and also said she spoke to Badawi on the phone after he was released.

A Saudi security official also confirmed that Badawi was no longer in prison and said he had been “released today”.

Badawi was arrested and jailed in Saudi Arabia in 2012 under the country’s cybercrime laws, after being accused of “insulting Islam” and setting up a free online forum.

He criticized Saudi Arabia’s religious police on his blog, a force that has since been cut from power by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in recent years, and called for an end to its role. The role of religion in politics.

A court sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison in 2014, as well as 1,000 lashes.

During his time in prison, Badawi, 38, became a celebrity for activists calling for human rights reform in Saudi Arabia, and won the Reporters Without Borders award for press freedom. .

The conditions for Badawi’s release are unknown. His sentence in 2014 also included a 10-year travel ban upon his release from prison.

FILE – Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, has called for his release from Canada, where she lives with the couple’s three children [File: Christian Lutz/AP]

Punishment “brutal and inhumane”

Badawi receives the first whip 50 eyelashes in January 2015, but the rest were suspended after global condemnation.

The United Nations has described the punishment as “cruel and inhumane”. Saudi Arabia finally abolished the float in April 2020.

Badawi suffers from health problems during incarceration.

Ensaf Haidar, his wife of 20 years, said in 2018 that she and their three children had not seen him in nearly eight years. They are currently Canadian citizens.

“I hope one day I can live a normal life with my kids and husband,” Haidar said last week.

“He’s an open man, he loves freedom, he likes independent women,” she added.

If Badawi is allowed to leave Saudi Arabia, he will be able to live in Canada after lawmakers vote unanimously grant him citizenship.

The issue has soured relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada, which have called for the release of jailed activists in 2018. In retaliation, Riyadh expelled the Canadian ambassador, closing trade with Ottawa and transfer Saudi scholarship students to other countries.

But last year, the kingdom started to release a number of human rights activists in response to global pressure, including Loujain al-Hathloul in February 2021, followed by Raif’s sisters Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah last June.

However, released activists still face restrictions. Al-Hathloul, who has campaigned for the legalization of driving for women in Saudi Arabia, is still banned from traveling and given a three-year suspended prison sentence.

Many political prisoners remain in Saudi prisons, including Muslim scholar Salman al-Awdah and economist Essam al-Zamel.

On Tuesday, the United States called on Saudi Arabia to review “prisoners of conscience” cases and lift a travel ban and other restrictions imposed on released prisoners, during the United Nations Human Rights Council debate in Geneva.

A Saudi diplomat told the forum that no individuals had been arrested or detained for “exercising freedom of expression or defending human rights” and called the allegations “baseless”.

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