Saudi Arabia: Blogger and human rights defender Raif Badawi released
On 11 March 2022, Saudi blogger and human rights defender Raif Badawi was released from prison at the end of his ten-year sentence, which was related to the peaceful and legitimate expression of his opinions about human rights online.
In 2012, he was arrested after he set up a website that was critical of the Saudi authorities and called for reforms in Saudi Arabia. In 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, a 10-year travel ban to start on expiration of his prison sentence, a ban on using media outlets and a fine of one million Saudi Riyals (about US$266,600).
On 9 January 2015, he received 50 lashes in public. In June 2015, the Supreme Court ratified his sentence, leaving him at risk of additional flogging in public.
On 29 October 2015, he was announced as the winner of the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, presented by the European Parliament.
Raif Badawi is co-founder and editor of the website Liberal Saudi Network, an on-line forum created to foster political and social debate in Saudi Arabia.
While the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes the release of blogger and human rights defender Raif Badawi, it calls on the Saudi authorities to lift the ten-year forced travel ban currently imposed on him, and immediately and unconditionally allow him to join his family in Canada. There is no doubt that he should not ever have been imprisoned, as civilised countries celebrate their creative talents and do not throw them into prisons.