We thought there might be some hope for Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, who still awaited 950 lashes as part of punishment for “insulting Islam.” A couple of weeks ago, a Swiss official said Badawi may have been pardoned, though there was no independent confirmation of this.
Now, Badawi’s wife said the situation is much worse than we expected.
Ensaf Haidar wrote on Facebook:
TOP URGENT: Saudi Prison administration transferred Raif Badawi to a new isolated prison and Raif started a hunger strike since Tuesday
The prison administration transferred today my husband Raif Badawi to a new isolated prison called Prison Shabbat Central, located in a deserted and isolated area — around 87 KM from Jeddah City.
This prison is designed for prisoners, whose verdict has been confirmed with a final Adjudication. The Saudi government has repeatedly declared that Raif’s case is under review and is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court.We express our surprise at this decision especially after the Swiss Secretary of Foreign Affairs Yves Rossier announcement on 28 November that a royal pardon is in the works. And we are very alarmed at the prison administration decision to transfer my husband to the Shabbat Central and fear it may lead to the resumption of his flogging.
As a result of this decision, Raif started in Tuesday a hunger trike and we hold the prison administration responsible for any harm that Raif may suffer.
We take this opportunity to call on his Majesty King Salman to act on his promises and pardon my husband, end his and his family’s ordeal and unite him with his wife and children.
There’s not much we can do from a distance other than to keep his name in the news so that maybe the Saudi government will realize we’re paying close attention to what they do with him. So far, government officials in the U.S. have only made passing references in Badawi’s defense.