Family concerned imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi could face death penalty

Ensaf Haidar, wife of blogger Raif Badawi, speaks to the media at a news conference in Montreal on Monday, February 23, 2015.
Ensaf Haidar, wife of blogger Raif Badawi, speaks to the media at a news conference in Montreal on Monday, February 23, 2015. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi said Sunday that she has reason to believe authorities in Saudi Arabia are aiming to retry him on charges of apostasy.

In a statement via her Facebook page, Ensaf Haidar wrote:

“We have received information from reliable sources that there are attempts within the Penal Court to retry Raif Badawi on apostasy charges again,” she wrote.

“[An] apostasy charge is punishable under Saudi law with the death penalty by beheading.”

She said she was concerned that the judge who sentenced Badawi to the flogging has already twice asked for him to be charged with apostasy, requests that have so far been denied for legal jurisdiction reasons.

“However, due to a new regulation issued by the Supreme Judicial Council on 19.09.2014, the Penal court has now jurisdiction over major cases, which are punishable by the death penalty, amputation and stoning.”

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Haidar was granted political asylum and has been living in Quebec with the couple’s three children since 2013.

She has been actively involved in trying to free her husband since he was imprisoned last May.

READ MOREWitness: Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam publicly flogged 50 times

Badawi is serving 10 years in prison and was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for a blog criticizing Saudi Arabia’s clerics.

The first 50 lashes were delivered in early January, and he was expected to receive 50 more each week for the following 19 weeks. However, every week, the flogging sessions have been postponed.

READ MORESaudi Arabia postpones flogging of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi again

Badawi’s supporters around the world, which include the Canadian and Quebec governments, the mayor of Montreal and Amnesty International, are hoping that continued pressure on the Saudi government will result in the end of his imprisonment.

“We call on the world citizens and governments not to leave Raif dragged by such bigots to death,” her post continued.

“And we renew our calls to his Majesty King Salman to pardon Raif Badawi and allow him to leave Canada to be united with his family there.”


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