Saudi blogger Raif Badawi's sentence suspended: Swiss official

Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi could have his sentence of 1,000 lashes suspended, according to what a Swiss official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told newspaper La Liberté.

Royal pardon by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudia Arabia reportedly in the works

Montreal has been the site of several demonstrations in support of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

A Swiss newspaper is reporting that imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi could have his sentence of 1,000 lashes suspended, but Amnesty International has yet to confirm the news.

The Swiss Secretary of Foreign Affairs Yves Rossier told the Fribourg daily newspaper La Liberté that Badawi's sentence was suspended.

"A royal pardon is in the works thanks to the head of state, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud," he said.

Rossier said he brought up the matter while on an official visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International still concerned

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar and their three children have political asylum in Canada and live in Sherbrooke, Que. 

Mireille Elchacar, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International's Sherbrooke chapter, said it has yet to confirm the report.

She said Amnesty is waiting for more information, though it has concerns that even if Badawi is freed, he could be required to stay in Saudi Arabia.

Arrested for criticizing Islam

Badawi was arrested in June 2012 for criticizing Saudi Arabian clerics on his website. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He was also fined $266,000.

Because 1,000 lashes at once would likely be fatal, Saudi judges decreed that Badawi would be whipped in instalments of 50 lashes spread out over 20 weeks.

However, the first lashing left Badawi so badly injured that his subsequent weekly sessions were postponed.

Elchacar said the last update Amnesty received on Badawi's condition was that his health and morale were suffering.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?