CNN—Prominent Saudi activist Raif Badawi on Wednesday was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes by a Saudi court for insulting Islam, said his wife and a source who followed the case closely.
Badawi had appealed his original 2013 conviction, which carried a sentence of seven years in prison and 600 lashes, for insulting Islam and violating the Kingdom's anti-cybercrime laws.
That verdict was overturned by an appeals court and a retrial was ordered.
Badawi plans to appeal this new decision, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.
"This is terrible news and I'm absolutely shocked and devastated by it," said Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haider. "How is it possible they could take a sentence that was already so harsh and make it even harsher? Ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes? That's unimaginable. I'm extremely scared for my husband."
The judgment also included a 1 million riyal fine, which is equal to about $267,000.
Despite repeated attempts, CNN was unable to reach Saudi Arabia's Justice Ministry for comment.
Badawi, a respected rights activist in Saudi Arabia, first got into legal hot water with the Saudi government after starting a liberal website and forum where users could discuss religion.
His trial, guilty verdict, sentence and imprisonment has caused immense outrage among international rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who accused Saudi authorities of cracking down on activism and attempting to quell dissent in the ultraconservative nation.
Amnesty International called Wednesday's judgment outrageous and called for the conviction to be overturned.
"He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International. (Continue Reading.)
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Saudi Activist Raif Badawi Sentenced to 1000 Lashes and Ten Years in Prison for Promoting Free Speech
For years, Muslim organizations like CAIR have been conditioning politicians and the media not to criticize Islam. Now that our leaders have been properly trained to tip-toe around Muslim issues, Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia can continue the systematic abuse and oppression of anyone who dares challenge Sharia. CNN reports the story, but doesn't dare point out that harsh penalties for criticizing Islam are part of Islam, not simply Saudi law.