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Saudi blogger sentenced to 'unimaginable' punishment for 'insulting Islam'

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who co-founded a liberal website as a forum to discuss religion, was charged with "insulting Islam." On Wednesday, a Saudi court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. Amnesty International has condemned the verdict and is calling for Badawi's release.
By JC Finley Follow @JC_Finley Contact the Author   |   May 8, 2014 at 1:24 PM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, May 8 (UPI) -- A Saudi court sentenced Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a $266,000 fine for "insulting Islam."

Badawi co-founded the Liberal Saudi Network website in 2008 as a forum to discuss religion and in 2012, he was arrested on charges of insulting Islam through his blog and in television comments. He was sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, a verdict he appealed. A retrial was ultimately ordered.

Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haider, asked, "How is it possible they could take a sentence that was already so hash and make it even harsher? Ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes? That's unimaginable. I'm extremely scared for my husband."

Amnesty International denounced Wednesday's court ruling, describing Badawi as a "prisoner of conscience" who must be released.

"Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia."
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