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Saudi Arabia: Arrest of prominent human rights advocate, Samar Badawi, another blow to freedom of expression

Wednesday 13 January 2016 - 12:00am

13 January 2016

The arrest of Samar Badawi, a prominent rights advocate and sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, is yet another example of Saudi authorities targeting and intimidating human rights activists and the complete lack of free speech in the country.

According to several reports, Samar Badawi was arrested yesterday  for calling for the release of her former husband Waleed Abu al-Khair and publishing a photo of him in prison on Twitter. She was released on bail this morning.

‘Saudi authorities have once again demonstrated their complete disregard for human rights and freedom of speech.  PEN International calls on Saudi authorities to immediately cease the intimidation of critical voices and the ongoing severe repression of freedom of expression in the country,’ said Jennifer Clement, president of PEN International.  

In May 2014 Samar’s brother, Raif Badawi, was convicted of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (approximately $266,000), a 10-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes. He had spent almost two years in prison prior to his conviction.

Raif Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is a prominent human rights lawyer who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in connection to his work protecting and defending freedom of expression and human rights in Saudi Arabia.

PEN International will continue to monitor the progress of Samar Badawi’s case.


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