Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld a sentence of 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes against blogger Raif Badawi on charges of insulting Islam, his wife said on Sunday.
The judgment came despite worldwide outrage over his case and criticism from the United Nations, United States, the European Union, Canada and others.
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“This is a final decision that is irrevocable,” Ensaf Haidar told AFP in a telephone interview from Canada. “This decision has shocked me.”
Badawi received the first 50 of the 1,000 lashes he was sentenced to outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9. Subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed on medical grounds.
Amnesty International slammed the “abhorrent” decision to uphold a “cruel and unjust sentence,” describing it as a “dark day for freedom of expression.”
“Blogging is not a crime and Raif Badawi is being punished merely for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.
Badawi’s wife expressed 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 said.
Badawi co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group.
He was arrested in June 2012 under cyber-crime provisions, and a judge ordered the website shut after it criticized Saudi Arabia’s notorious religious police.
The co-founder of the online venue, Suad al-Shammari, was released from jail in February. But Badawi’s lawyer, Walid Abulkhair, who is also a rights activist, remain behind bars.
Badawi and Abulkhair have been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian member of parliament Karin Andersen.