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Saudi Arabia upholds 10-year prison, 1,000 lashing sentence on blogger

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 for cybercrime and insulting Islam through electronic channels through his website. He was sentenced in May 2014 to 1,000 lashes and 10 years imprisonment. Photo courtesy of PEN International.
Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 for cybercrime and "insulting Islam through electronic channels" through his website. He was sentenced in May 2014 to 1,000 lashes and 10 years imprisonment. Photo courtesy of PEN International.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 7 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court on Sunday upheld the sentence of blogger Raif Badawi: 1,000 lashes and 10 years imprisonment.

Badawi was arrested in 2012 for cybercrime and "insulting Islam through electronic channels" through his website The Liberal Saudi Network. He was sentenced in May 2014.

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"Twenty weeks of agony. Ten years of imprisonment. This is the painful price of criticizing religious authorities in Saudi Arabia," Amnesty International said in a statement. "Raif's so-called 'crime' was violating Saudi Arabia's information technology law and insulting Islam through the creation of... a website meant for social and political debate in Saudi Arabia. The prosecution called for him to be tried for 'apostasy' or abandoning his religion, which carries the death penalty."

Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence on Jan. 9 and was supposed to receive the remaining 950 lashes in increments of 50 every following Friday, but all floggings were previously postponed "for medical reasons."

"Flogging violates the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in international law," Amnesty International added.

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The U.S. Department of State previously expressed concern about Saudi Arabia's apostasy laws, stating it restricts freedom of expression and religion.

Saudi Arabia expressed "surprise and dismay" in March about the international criticism it received over Badawi's punishment.

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