Saudi blogger's flogging postponed

Rights group says planned flogging of Raif Badawi delayed for second straight week on the advice of doctors.

    Badawi's initial sentence was seven years and 600 lashes, but this was increased in may 2013 to ten years and 1,000 lashes
    Badawi's initial sentence was seven years and 600 lashes, but this was increased in may 2013 to ten years and 1,000 lashes

    The planned flogging of a Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam has been delayed for a second straight week, a leading international rights group has said, a move that comes amid mounting pressure from Saudi Arabia's Western allies for authorities to cancel the punishment.

    The London-based Amnesty International said on Thursday that about eight doctors carried out medical tests on Raif Badawi, 31, and recommended that he not be flogged this Friday.

    Saudi authorities postponed his flogging last week after a doctor concluded that his wounds from the first 50 lashes had not yet healed, according to Amnesty.

    His public flogging on January 9 in the city of Jeddah led to an outpouring of international condemnation. Both the US State Department and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on authorities to rescind the punishment. Sweden's Foreign Ministry summoned Saudi Arabia's charge d'affaires on Monday to protest against the flogging.

    Badawi was arrested in 2012 after writing articles critical of Saudi Arabia's clerics on a liberal blog he created, which has since been shut down.

    He was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabia's technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through his blog.

    He was sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, but after an appeal the judge stiffened the punishment in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.

    Badawi was also fined 1 million Saudi riyals, about $266,000.

    Amnesty, which is campaigning for his release, says the lashes were scheduled to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week.

    Badawi's wife and three children have moved to Canada.

    Badawi's lawyer, Waleed Abul-Khair, is serving a 15-year sentence for "undermining regime officials," "inciting public opinion" and "insulting the judiciary."



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