It appears that there may be hope for Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, who was facing another 950 lashes to round out a punishment he received last year (and was upheld a few months ago).
After being sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for “insulting Islam,” Badawi received the first 50 lashes at the beginning of the year, with the expectation that he would receive 50 more every Friday for a total of 20 weeks. But those additional lashes never came for reasons that were unclear.
Here’s the good news: Yves Rossier, the Swiss secretary of Foreign Affairs, has told the newspaper La Liberté that Badawi’s sentence has been officially suspended.The CBC explains:
Rossier said he brought up the matter while on an official visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“A royal pardon is in the works thanks to the head of state, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,” he added.
If that’s true, it’d be incredible. Badawi’s wife and three kids, who currently live in Quebec, have been pleading for his release, as have human rights activists across the globe.
But it’s a big if. There’s no further confirmation of this information and Badawi has not yet been released. Saying that a pardon is “in the works” could mean any number of things. Until Badawi is safely home with his family, I’m not getting my hopes up.