German Foreign Minister raises Raif Badawi case with King Salman
Germany's Foreign Minister raised the case of jailed blogger Raif Badawi with King Salman today during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
"We have addressed here also the situation of human rights," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after meeting the King. "We have also discussed individual cases, including the one you have mentioned," Steinmeier told a reporter who had specifically asked about Raif's case.
"But understand that we carry out these discussions in a confidential manner."
He said that he had underlined, very explicitly, "that we are waiting for progress".
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a huge fine, and 1000 lashes for running a blog deemed to be critical of the Saudi government and religious establishment. A Worldwide Campaign has been in full force since January, when Badawi received the first 50 of the sentenced lashes.
Every week, supporters across the world have been demonstrating outside Saudi Arabian Embassies at the Kingdom's despicable treatment of Badawi and his lawyer, Waleed Abu al-khair, who was jailed for 15 years.
Following the pair's nomination for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, last week Badawi became one of three people shortlisted by the European Parliament for its Sakharov human rights prize - a move which is reported to have 'upset' the Saudi government, according to sources.
To add to the ultra-conservative and theocratic kingdom's embarrassment, tomorrow evening there will be a reading in the EU Parliament of Raif Badawi's book, '1000 Lashes - Because I Say What I Think', with several MEP's themselves performing the readings. The book is already available in English, German, French, Italian and now Dutch.
Steinmeier arrived in Riyadh from Iran on a mission largely focused on seeking ways to end the war in Syria. Critics have pilloried his trip, quoting the flagrant human rights abuses of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, but the Foreign Minister has rejected such criticism. "Whoever refuses to talk to Iran and Saudi Arabia, can not claim to have a solution for Syria", he emphasised.