Saudi Arabia Criticised by The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan U.S. federal government body, said in it's Annual Report last week that the US Government should, at the highest levels, press for and work to secure the release of Raif Badawi, his lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, and other prisoners of conscience, and press the Saudi government to end state prosecution of individuals charged with apostasy, blasphemy, and sorcery.
Regarding Raif Badawi, the report states......
In May 2014, a Saudi appeals court sentenced blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, and fined him $1 million SR ($266,000 USD) for, among other charges, insulting Islam and religious authorities.
The sentence called for Badawi – the founder and editor of a Web site that served as an online forum for diverse views to be expressed freely – to be lashed 50 times a week for 20 consecutive weeks. On January 9, 2015,
Badawi received his first set of 50 lashes. Immediately after the flogging was carried out, several governments, including the United States, and numerous international human rights groups and individuals condemned the implementation of the sentence. Badawi has not received additional floggings, due in part to the international outrage and in part to a medical doctor’s finding that he could not physically endure more lashings.
At the end of the reporting period, Badawi continued to languish in prison, where he has been held since June 2012. Badawi’s case reportedly was referred to the Saudi Supreme Court in January 2015.
Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced in July 2014 by a Specialized Criminal Court to 15 years in jail on various trumped-up charges related to his work as a human rights defender.