An appeals court in Saudi Arabia has upheld the conviction of a human rights activist for “insulting Islam”, ordering him to be jailed for 10 years and be lashed 1,000 times.
Raef Badawi, who has been held since June 2012 and is the founder of the Saudi Liberal Network, had been sentenced earlier to seven years in jail.
He was convicted of “creating a website insulting Islam” and criticising the role of the notorious religious police “which we all do” in Saudi Arabia, the rights group’s co-founder, Suad al-Shamari, told the AFP news agency.
The court also ordered him to pay a fine of one million riyals ($266,666).
His wife, Ensaf Haidar, confirmed the ruling on her twitter account:
Urgent- Today’s Saudi appeal court decision confirms #raifbadawi sentence: 10 year prison/travel/media ban, 1000 lashes; making it final.
— Ensaf haidar (@miss9afi)
“We were very surprised” by the appeals court ruling on Monday, Shamari said.
“The only hope now is an amnesty from the king or a swift move by the justice minister to form a fair judicial committee,” she added.
The lawsuit against Badawi was filed by clerics.
Badawi was sentenced in July 2013 to more than seven years in jail, and 600 lashes, but an appeals court overturned that ruling, sending the case back for retrial when he received a harsher sentence.
“Even the worst terrorists have not received such a harsh sentence,” Shamari said.
“Saudi Arabia is putting together all its efforts to fight terrorism… and finally waking up to the mistakes it has created with its own hands” by following a strict interpretation of Islamic law, she added.