RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A Saudi Arabian blogger who was imprisoned and flogged publicly for criticizing the country's religious establishment has been awarded the European Union's top human rights award.
Raif Badawi, 31, was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on Thursday. He was arrested in 2012 and charged with apostasy, cybercrime and disobeying his father for starting a website where he criticized Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic religious establishment.
Badawi was sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014, he was resentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who announced the award, said Badawi is "an extremely good man, an exemplary man who has had imposed on him one of the most gruesome penalties" that "can only really be described as brutal torture," The New York Times reported.
Schulz called on King Salman of Saudi Arabia to "immediately grant mercy to Mr. Badawi and to free him so that he can accept the prize."
"In the case of Mr. Badawi, fundamental human rights are not only not being respected, they are being trodden underfoot," Schulz added.