By Staff writer
Gulf kingdom rejects international criticism over the punishment; decision slammed by Amnesty International
Saudi Arabia's supreme court has upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years imprisonment for blogger Raif Badawi, it was announced on Sunday.
Despite international criticism over the punishment, the Saudi foreign ministry issued a statement saying it rejected interference in its internal affairs.
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 SR1 million and prevented from using any kind of media or travelling until 2034.
For four years, Badawi ran the Liberal Saudi Network, which encouraged online debate on religious and political issues.
He received his first 50 lashes in January but subsequent floggings were postponed on medical grounds.
Amnesty International said the decision by the Supreme Court was "a dark day for freedom of expression in the kingdom".
“It is abhorrent that this cruel and unjust sentence has been upheld. 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, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“By failing to overturn the sentence Saudi Arabian authorities today have displayed a callous disregard to justice and to the tens of thousands of voices around the world calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
"Now that his sentence is final and cannot be revoked, his public flogging might start as soon as Friday and he will unjustly serve the remaining of his sentence. The court’s decision casts a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record.”