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Saudi blogger Raif Badawi spared flogging for fifth consecutive week

Amnesty International activists protest with a placard reading 'No flogging for blogging' against the flogging punishment of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi on January 29, 2015. Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

MONTREAL — Saudi Arabia postponed a planned flogging of blogger Raif Badawi for a fifth consecutive week, Amnesty International said Friday.

The human rights watchdog said through Twitter that Badawi was spared lashes for unknown reasons.

Badawi is serving 10 years in prison and has also been sentenced to 1,000 lashes for blog posts criticizing Saudi Arabia’s clerics.

The first 50 lashes were delivered on Jan. 9 and Amnesty said none have taken place since then. Some were postponed for medical reasons.

Badawi was arrested in 2012, the same year his wife and children fled Saudi Arabia, settling in Sherbrooke, Que., in 2013.

Badawi was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, but an appeals judge stiffened the punishment and fined him one million Saudi riyals, or more than $300,000.

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His detention and sentence have stirred up worldwide condemnation.

European Union lawmakers passed a resolution on Thursday demanding Badawi’s immediate release and condemning the flogging as a “cruel and shocking act.”

In Quebec, the provincial legislature passed a similar motion Wednesday with Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, in attendance.

Ensaf Haider, right, wife of Raif Badawi, is comforted by an unidentified woman, after the legislature voted unanimously in favour of a motion to free her husband from a Saudi Arabian jail, during question period Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also spoke out against Badawi’s treatment during a Quebec announcement on Thursday.

He said that Canada’s influence is limited by the fact that Badawi is not a citizen, but the country would continue to defend fundamental freedoms.

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