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By Staff, Agencies Saudi blogger, dissident and pro-democracy activist Raif Badawi, who has been jailed and sentenced to 1,000 lashes for criticizing the kingdom’s extremist Wahhabi ideology, has been released from prison in Saudi Arabia after serving a 10-year term, his wife says. “Raif called me.

He is free,” human rights activist Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with their three children and had been advocating for his release, told AFP news agency on Friday.

A Saudi security official also confirmed that Badawi was no longer in prison, saying he had been “released today.” “I jumped when I found out.

I couldn’t believe it.

I can’t wait to see my dad, I’m so excited,” one of his daughters, Nawja Badawi, 18, said.

Badawi’s son Terad Raif Badawi tweeted: “After 10 years my father is free!” The winner of the Reporters without Borders prize for press freedom, who is now 38 years old, was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

He was detained over material on an internet forum that he created to encourage public debate, criticizing the influential Saudi clerics who preach Wahhabism.

Criticism of Wahhabi clerics is viewed as a red line as they are instrumental in supporting Riyadh’s policies.

He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, which were to be carried out in 20 sessions in front of a mosque, ten years in jail, $266,000 in cash fine, 10-year ban on overseas travel, and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media.

The Saudi blogger received his first 50 lashes at a square outside al-Jafali Mosque in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, located 955 kilometers southwest of the capital, Riyadh, on January 9, 2015.

The second round of the punishment, scheduled to be carried out a week later, was suspended on health grounds.

Every Friday for almost seven years, Haidar – who fled to Canada after Badawi’s arrest and has since become a Canadian citizen – had held a public vigil for him.

International human rights organizations have lashed out at Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom.

They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism

Original Article Source: Al Ahed News | Published on Saturday, 12 March 2022 11:12 (about 827 days ago)