MONTREAL – A blogger who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing Saudi Arabian clerics will get some high-powered legal help.
The Quebec Bar and Lawyers Without Borders Canada announced Thursday they were joining forces in efforts to get Raif Badawi released from a Saudi jail.
His lawyer is also in prison and while Badawi has a “legal representative,” that person is not a lawyer.
Pascal Paradis, the executive-director of Lawyers Without Borders, told a news conference that Saudi law provides for the right to a lawyer and “a full and complete defence.”
“This has to be a Saudi solution to a Saudi problem,” Paradis said.”We will act based on Saudi law and applicable international law and this is done in collaboration with Mr. Badawi’s legal representative in Saudi Arabia.”
Lawyers Without Borders said it moved into action a month ago and has begun establishing legal avenues it hopes will reunite Badawi with his family.
It added it’s getting involved following appeals from its members and at the request of Badawi’s family.
Badawi’s wife and three children live in Sherbrooke, Que.
The first 50 lashes were carried out in early January, but he has not been flogged since then because of health concerns.
Lawyers Without Borders Canada, a non-governmental international co-operation organization, has been active in more than 15 countries.
Bernard Synnott, head of the Quebec Bar, said his organization has been lending its support to the group on a number of major missions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the government’s influence in the case is limited given that Badawi is not a Canadian citizen.