The wife of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who has been sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years’ jail, has pleaded with authorities to allow him to live with his family in Canada.
Ensaf Haidar published the plea in The Independent newspaper in the UK on the one-year anniversary since his sentence for writing unfavourable blogs about the kingdom.
Badawi received the first 50 lashes in January but subsequent sets have been repeatedly postpone, authorities say for medical reasons.
The sentence has attracted widespread international condemnation, with human rights groups and several western governments calling on Riyadh to cancel the sentence.
Haidar, who has fled to Quebec, Canada with the couple’s children, accused Saudi Arabia of treating her husband "like a criminal deserving of punishment, floggings and imprisonment” simply because he had spoken his mind through his liberal blog and wanted his country to respect people’s differences," The Independent reported.
However, she said their efforts to silence him had failed. “Voicing his thoughts loudly annoyed the Saudi authorities but they have made him into an icon of freedom – not only in Saudi Arabia, but throughout the world,” she wrote in Arabic.
Amnesty International also used the sentencing anniversary to renew appeals for his Badawi’s “immediate and unconditional” release.
“It is truly tragic that a whole year has passed since Raif Badawi received this cruel and unjust sentence. He is clearly being punished for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” Said Boumedouha, deputy Director of Middle East and North Africa Programme, said.
“It is not enough for the Saudi Arabian authorities to suspend the public floggings in bid to escape international criticism and sweep Raif Badawi’s case under the carpet. As long as the sentence stands he remains unjustly imprisoned and at risk of flogging, casting a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record. It is high time his conviction is quashed and for the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.”
In April, Saudi Arabia warned the government of Quebec not to “interfere” in the case.
In a letter obtained by CBC and sent to the Quebec National Assembly, Saudi ambassador to Canada Naif Bin Al Sudairy said the kingdom “does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs”, according to the Montreal Gazette.
To mark the anniversary of his sentencing, thousands of Badawi’s supporters are reportedly planning to protest for his release outside Saudi Arabian embassies around the world.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.