Saudi Blogger is Sentenced to 7 years in Prison, 600 Lashes, for ‘Insulting’ Islam
A Saudi court has sentenced a activist to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for violating the nation’s anti-cybercrime law, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday.
A Jeddah Criminal Court found Raif Badawi, who has been in prison since June 2012, guilty this week of insulting Islam through his website and in television comments.
“This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia’s claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue,” said Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven
years in prison.”
His lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, told Human Rights Watch that Judge al-Harbi read the verdict Monday. The court is expected to send him a written notification by August 6. They’ll have 30 days to appeal.
Case separates family
Ensaf Haidar, Badawi’s wife, said she’s devastated by the news.
“I don’t know what to do,” Haidar said Wednesday. “Raif did nothing wrong.”
Haidar and the couple’s three children now live in Lebanon.
Estranged from her family, Haidar said it would be impossible to take her children back to Saudi Arabia. The stigma is too strong there.
“You feel like everybody’s accusing you,” she said, close to tears, in an April interview. “Like everybody’s against you, at war with you.”
CNN has made several attempts to reach the Saudi Arabia government for comment but received no response.
The only good news is that the court dropped the charge of apostasy, which carries the death sentece.