English PEN joins PEN International in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of editor Raef Badawi who was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and 600 lashes on 29 July 2013 by a court in Jeddah after conviction under the information technology law of creating and managing an online forum which ‘undermined national security’. He was also convicted of ‘insulting religious symbols’ and criticising the religious police and officials calling for gender segregation in the Shura Council. The online forum, Liberal Saudi Network – created to foster political and social debate in Saudi Arabia – was ordered closed by the judge.
We also remain gravely concerned for the well-being of writer Hamza Kashgari who is believed to remain detained facing blasphemy charges in relation to comments he posted on Twitter. We belive that both Kashgari and Badawi are held solely for peacefully expressing their opinions, in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and call for their the immediate and unconditional release.
Meanwhile, we welcome the release on 5 June 2013 of writer Turki Al-Hamad after more than five months in detention without trial, apparently in connection with comments he posted on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who sent letters of appeal on his behalf.
For further information on these cases, please visit the PEN International website.
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Please send appeals:
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Raef Badawi and Hamza Kashgari as they are held solely for peacefully expressing their opinions, in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Urging that Raef Badawi’s flogging sentence not be carried out as it would violate the international absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment;
- Calling for both men to be granted immediate and regular access to their families, lawyers of their choice and all necessary medical care, and to be protected from torture or other ill-treatment.
Appeals to be sent to:His Majesty 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 Crown Prince and Minister of the Interior 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 Minister of Justice 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 Charles Street London W1J 5DZ