Pittella: "S&D Group demands the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi."
S&D Group president Gianni Pittella and foreign affairs committee coordinator Richard Howitt met today with Esnaf Haidar, the wife of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who has been sentenced by Saudi authorities to ten years in prison, to be followed by 10 years of travel ban and 1000 lashes for alleged "apostasy". His real "crime", however, was to challenge repression in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, of which he is now one of the victims.
S&D Group president Gianni Pittella, stressed: "S&D Group was a leader in promoting the resolution the European Parliament adopted on 12 February 2015 demanding an immediate and unconditional release of Raif Badawi, punished solely for exercising his right to the freedom of expression. He should be released, stripped of all charges and be allowed to reunite with his family. The S&D Group will keep following his case closely and advocating for his immediate release"
S&D coordinator on the foreign affairs committee Richard Howitt, stated:
"The treatment of Raif Badawi is a symptom of a broader trend of violations of basic rights and repression of all dissent in Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning of this year, 85 people have been beheaded. The discrimination of and hate speech against Christians, Jews, Shiite and Sufi Muslims keep stemming from the Kingdom unabated. We will continue to use our strong influence with the EU high representative for foreign and security policy/vice-president of the Commission Federica Mogherini and governments of the member states to put human rights at the centre of their relations with Saudi Arabia".