Blog­ger could be par­doned: Swiss of­fi­cial

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

GENEVA: A pro­ce­dure for ob­tain­ing a par­don from Saudi Ara­bia’s king is un­der way for jailed blog­ger Raif Badawi, whose flog­ging sen­tence cre­ated world­wide out­rage, a se­nior Swiss of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day. “A pro­ce­dure for a par­don is now un­der way be­fore the head of state, that is King Sal­man,” Yves Rossier, the sec­re­tary of state at the for­eign min­istry, said in the news­pa­per La Lib­erte yes­ter­day. Rossier had raised the blog­ger’s case dur­ing an of­fi­cial visit to Riyadh this week.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment last month awarded Badawi, 31, its Sakharov hu­man rights prize. An­nounc­ing the award, par­lia­ment chief Martin Schulz called on King Sal­man to im­me­di­ately release Badawi, de­nounc­ing his 10-year jail term and flog­ging sen­tence as “bru­tal tor­ture”. Badawi co-founded the Saudi Lib­eral Net­work In­ter­net dis­cus­sion group.

He was de­tained in 2012 on cy­ber­crime charges and later sen­tenced for in­sult­ing Is­lam and call­ing for the end of the in­flu­ence of re­li­gion on pub­lic life. Badawi re­ceived the first 50 lashes of his 1,000 lashes sen­tence in Jan­uary but there have been no more, fol­low­ing crit­i­cism from the Euro­pean Union, United States, Swe­den, Canada, the United Na­tions and oth­ers.

His lawyer Walid Abulkhair, who is also in prison, re­ceived Fri­day in Geneva an in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights prize from the Euro­pean bar as­so­ci­a­tions for his work de­fend­ing rights in the oil-rich king­dom. Abulkhair founded a hu­man rights ob­ser­va­tory in Saudi Ara­bia. He was sen­tenced last year to 15 years in prison on charges of try­ing to un­der­mine the state and in­sult­ing the ju­di­ciary.

South African anti-apartheid icon Nel­son Man­dela, while still in prison, was the first in 1985 to re­ceive the Ludovic Trarieux In­ter­na­tional Hu­man Rights Prize, awarded by Euro­pean bar as­so­ci­a­tions to lawyers who de­fend hu­man rights and fight against in­tol­er­ance and racism. —Agen­cies

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