Raif Badawi was flogged in public 50 times a fortnight ago. He has 950 lashes and nearly a decade in prison left to serve – simply for blogging about free speech.
Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience; his only ‘crime’ was to exercise his right to freedom of expression by setting up a website for public discussion. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Raif Badawi was arrested in June 2012. In May 2014 he was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabia’s strict technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures by creating and managing an online forum.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (about €230,000) and prevented from using any kind of media or travelling until 2034.
Raif Badawi was publically flogged on 9 January. Just after Friday prayers Raif was led by Saudi officials out of a bus and into the middle of the square in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. A large crowd had gathered to see the flogging.
Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi’s wife said: ‘Raif told me he is in a lot of pain. He said that when he was being flogged he took the pain silently and rose above it, so that history will know that he did not react to their punishment. His health is poor and he cannot take another round of lashes’.
Raif was scheduled to be lashed another 50 times one week later, on Friday 16 January, but his torture was postponed ‘for medical reasons’. On Wednesday 21 January a Committee of Doctors again recommended that the flogging, scheduled for Friday 23 January, not go ahead on medical grounds.
Instead of continuing to torment Raif Badawi by dragging out his ordeal with repeated assessments the authorities should publicly announce an end to his flogging and release him immediately and unconditionally.
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