Raif Badawi prison sentence, lashes upheld by Saudi court

The wife of Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger jailed in Saudi Arabia, says it's hard to have hope after the country's Supreme Court upheld a sentence against him that involves 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.

Punishment expected to restart Friday for Saudi blogger jailed for insulting Islam

Raif Badawi and his children, who are now with their mother in Sherbrooke, Quebec. (submitted by the Badawi family)

The wife of Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger jailed in Saudi Arabia, says hope is dimming after the country's Supreme Court upheld a sentence against him that involves 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.

"I've kept my hope but today is really a difficult day," said Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, who now lives in Sherbrooke, Que., with the couple's three children after they escaped from Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Haidar said she was told her husband's lashing would start again next Friday.

Last year, Badawi was found guilty of insulting Islamic values, "promoting liberal thought" and "going beyond the realm of obedience" by suggesting the kingdom should become more democratic.

Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison. He was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years and fined $266,000.

Because 1,000 lashes at once would likely be fatal, Saudi judges decreed that Badawi is to be whipped in instalments of 50 lashes each for 20 weeks.

On Sunday, a spokesman with the federal government said Canada continues to consider Badawi's sentence a violation of human dignity and that it is asking for clemency in his case.

"The promotion and protection of human rights are an integral part of Canada's foreign-affairs policy. Although Mr. Badawi is not a Canadian citizen, we will continue to make our position known publicly and through diplomatic channels," said Foreign Affairs spokesman Nicolas Doire in a statement.

The Supreme Court's decision in Saudi Arabia is final and cannot be overturned without a royal pardon.

Badawi's flogging has been criticized internationally by human rights groups and Western governments.

With additional reporting by The Associated Press

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