News   /   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Supreme Court upholds Badawi sentence

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

A Saudi court has upheld the 10-year prison and 1,000-flogging sentence handed down to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi for insulting Wahhabi clerics.

Ensaf Haidar, Badawi’s wife, said on Sunday that the decision to uphold the ruling was made by Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court. The judgment comes despite the denunciation of the Saudi regime’s treatment of the 31-year-old activist by the United Nations, the European Union, and many other international rights bodies and countries.

"This is a final decision that is irrevocable," AFP quoted Haidar as saying, who added, "This decision has shocked me."

The office of the Saudi king referred the case of Badawi to the Supreme Court in January.

Prosecution for the Saudi activist started in the year 2008 after he co-founded the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, on which he criticized the influential Saudi clerics who preach Wahhabism. Badawi was arrested under cybercrime provisions in June 2012.

Criticism of Wahhabi clerics is viewed as a red line as they are instrumental in supporting Riyadh’s policies.

An Amnesty International activist holds a picture of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi during a protest against his flogging punishment in front of Saudi Arabia's embassy in Berlin, Germany, January 29, 2015. © AFP

Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence in front of a mosque in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on January 9. Citing medical concerns, Saudi authorities postponed the second round of whipping, which was  scheduled to be carried out a week later.

Badawi’s wife also voiced grave concern and fear that the implementation of the flogging sentence "might resume next week."

"I was optimistic that the advent of (the Muslim fasting month of) Ramadan and the arrival of a new king would bring a pardon for the prisoners of conscience, including my husband," she added. Ramadan will start in under two weeks.

In January, Saudi Arabia’s former King Abdullah died at the age of 90 and Salman bin Abdulaziz became the new Saudi king.

In addition to the 1,000 lashes, to be carried out in 20 sessions in front of a mosque, and ten years in jail, the Saudi blogger has been sentenced to a cash fine of USD 266,000, 10-year ban on overseas travel, and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media.

Riyadh has been scathingly criticized by international human rights organizations for implementing repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku