Saudi Arabia: Raef Badawi sentenced to 10 years in prison

English PEN protests the sentencing of website editor Raef Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’ 

Website editor Raef Badawi was arrested on 17 June 2012 in Jeddah after organising a conference to mark a ‘day of liberalism’. The conference, which was to have taken place in Jeddah on 7 May, was banned by the authorities. On 29 July 2013, Badawi was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and 600 lashes.

Badawi’s lawyer, Walid Abu al-Khair, submitted an appeal citing procedural and evidential reasons why the conviction should be overturned and Badawi should be freed. In December 2013, it was reported that the Court of Appeal had reversed the ruling, ordering that Badawi’s case be sent for review by another court.

On 7 May 2014, Jeddah’s Criminal Court sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi riyals (approx. US$266,631) on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website.’ According to PEN’s information, when Badawi appeared in court to collect a written account of the verdict on 28 May he discovered the insertion of two additional penalties: a 10-year travel ban and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media, both to be applied following his release.

Raef Badawi’s lawyer, Walid Abu al-Khair, who has written many articles, has also been arrested in a separate case. PEN calls for Badawi’s conviction to be quashed and for the immediate and unconditional release of both men.

For further information, please visit the PEN International website and read PEN’s interview with his wife Ensaf Haidar.

TAKE ACTION

Please send appeals:

  • Condemning the Jeddah Criminal Court’s sentencing of editor Raef Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (approx. US$266,631), 10-year travel ban and 10-year media participation ban on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’ on 7 May 2014;
  • Calling for the Saudi Arabian authorities to overturn Raef Badawi’s sentence;
  • Urging the authorities to release Raef Badawi and Walid Abu al-Khair immediately and unconditionally as they are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • In the meantime, calling for both men to be granted all necessary medical treatment and access to their families and lawyers of their choice.

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Saudi Arabia in your country if possible, and send copies of any appeals you send and responses you receive to cat@englishpen.org

Appeals to be sent to:

King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 1 403 3125
Salutation: Your Majesty

His Royal Highness Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Ministry of the Interior
P.O.Box 2933, Airport Road
Riyadh 11134
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 403 3125
Salutation: Your Excellency 

His Excellency Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa
Ministry of Justice
University Street
Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: + 966 1 401 1741 + 966 11 402 0311
Salutation: Your Excellency 

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Saudi Arabia in your country

HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
30-32 Charles St
London
W1J 5DZ
Fax: 02079173113
Email: ukemb@mofa.gov.sa
Salutation: Your Excellency

Or you could use the form below.  A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

[ecampaign ‘to=ukemb@mofa.gov.sa’ subject=”In support of editor Raef Badawi”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express my concern for website editor Raef Badawi.

According to PEN’s information, on 7 May 2014, Jeddah’s Criminal Court sentenced Raef Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi riyals on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’. When Badawi appeared in court to collect a written account of the verdict on 28 May he discovered the insertion of two additional penalties: a 10-year travel ban and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media, both to be applied following his release.

Of further concern is the fact that Raef Badawi’s lawyer, Walid Abu al-Khair, who has written many articles, has also been arrested in a separate case.

I join PEN in calling for Badawi’s conviction to be quashed and for the immediate and unconditional release of both men, who I believe are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the meantime, I urge the authorities to ensure that both men are granted all necessary medical treatment and access to their families and lawyers of their choice.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

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