Last updated: 13 February, 2015

Saudi blogger Badawi again avoids flogging: Amnesty

Saudi Arabian blogger Raef Badawi avoided further flogging on Friday, Amnesty International said, marking the fifth straight week that his 1,000-lash sentence has not been carried out.

The case of Badawi, 31, has sparked worldwide outrage and criticism from the United Nations, United States, the European Union, Canada and others.

“Raef was not flogged again today. We’re not sure why but he remains in prison,” Amnesty, the London-based rights group, said on its Twitter account.

Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9.

The following two weekly rounds of punishment were postponed on medical grounds. There has been no reason for more recent delays but the case has focused attention on the kingdom’s human rights record.

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, has sought asylum in Canada with their three children.

Badawi co-founded with Suad al-Shammari the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group.

He was arrested in June 2012 under cybercrime provisions, and a judge ordered the website shut after it criticised Saudi Arabia’s notorious religious police.

Badawi was initially sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for insulting Islam and setting up the liberal network.

An appeals court overturned the verdict and sent his case back for retrial where the sentence was raised to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.

A Norwegian parliamentarian has nominated Badawi and his imprisoned lawyer Waleed Abulkhair for this year’s Nobel Peace prize.

In January an appeals court ordered Abulkhair to serve the full 15 years of his jail sentence.

He was convicted last July on a series of charges including “inciting public opinion” but the last five years of the sentence were initially suspended.

The two activists were convicted during the reign of King Abdullah, who died on January 23 and was succeeded by his half-brother Salman.