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Saudi Blogger Given 10 Years, Lashes for 'Insulting Islam'

Blogger given 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine after being convicted of insulting Islam".
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/9/2014, 4:15 AM

Saudi police
Saudi police
Reuters

A Saudi court has imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi for 10 years for "insulting Islam" and setting up a liberal web forum, the BBC reported, citing local media.

As part of the verdict, which was handed down on Wednesday, Badasi was also sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals ($266,000).

Badawi, the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested in 2012.

A Saudi newspaper close to the government reported that he had lost his appeal against an earlier, more lenient sentence of seven years and three months in jail and 600 lashes.

Last year he was cleared of apostasy, which could have carried a death sentence, according to the BBC.

Lashes are a common punishment in Saudi Arabia for offenses such as insulting the King, blasphemy, or even insulting members of one’s own tribe.

In April, a court in Jeddah ordered the permanent closure of Badawi’s website for publishing stories and comments that are considered against religion and morality.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International called the verdict imposed on Badawi "outrageous" and urged the authorities to quash the verdict.

The group described Badawi as a "prisoner of conscience" and called for his release.

"Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia," it said in a statement quoted by the BBC.

Last October a Saudi journalist was freed after spending a year and a half in prison for writing insulting tweets about the Prophet Muhammad.

Despite its less than stellar human rights record, Saudi Arabia won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council several months ago, being one of several countries with questionable human rights records to win seats in this body.