Saudi blogger Raif Badawi's sentence suspended: Swiss official
Royal pardon by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudia Arabia reportedly in the works
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.