Wife of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi says flogging of husband to begin again soon
Raif Badawi, who received a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes after he criticized Saudi Arabia's clerics on a liberal blog he founded.
A Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes could soon face further flogging after his initial punishment was suspended, according to his wife.
Raif Badawi received the sentence in 2014 for criticizing Saudi Arabian clerics on his website three years ago. He is also facing at least a $300,000 fine.
An appeals court overturned an initial sentence of seven years in prison and 600 lashes.
Badawi's flogging was put on hold in January after he received the first 50 lashes because of health concerns and other undisclosed reasons.
But his wife, Ensaf Haidar, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that a source she trusts said the whippings are scheduled to resume soon.
Badawi's friend and fellow writer, Ali Rizvi told CTV News Channel that he spoke to Haidar earlier today.
Rizvi said that Haidar told him that her source is the same one who informed her about his initial flogging and she thinks "it is very credible."
Rizvi added that the informant told Haidar that this time the lashes could take place inside his jail cell, rather than out in the public.
However, it is unclear exactly when the flogging is set to resume.
"The person called me to say Saudi Arabia would restart the lashing, but I don't know whether it will be this Friday or next," Haidar told The Canadian Press.
Rizvi said that Haidar has managed to maintain some communication with her husband, and is "very concerned" about his health.
"She's saying that he's not in very good condition, they don't feed him very well, they don't take care of him very well (and) the medical services … aren't very good," said Rizvi.
While Badawi is not a Canadian citizen, Haidar and his children have lived in Sherbrooke, Que., since 2013.
And Haidar is calling on Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau to provide support. She hopes that the Canadian government can send Badawi a passport.
"I would like him to help, yes," said Haidar.
Trudeau and Haidar met earlier this year, and after the meeting he tweeted that Badawi's "detainment and torture are unacceptable."
"We are hopeful that he will act on these words," said Rizvi.
Stephen Harper also spoke out against Badawi's treatment and called for leniency, but said Ottawa's influence was limited.
Rizvi believes that is a lot of "double speak" among world leaders in their dealings with the Middle Eastern nation.
"When it comes to Saudi Arabia nobody stands up to them. (U.S. President) Barack Obama has never stood up to them, never brought this up with them. Neither has the (United Nations)," he said.
"As far as Prime Minister Harper goes, he prides himself on talking about how Islamism and Islamic radicalism is the threat we're fighting, but at the same time he did a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia contingent on secrecy."
But Rizvi believes that Trudeau might take a stronger stance on the issue.
"I think we're all very hopeful in the way that he has met with Ensaf and in the way that he has vocally said that this is unacceptable."
The government of Quebec granted Badawi a selection certification in June, which is a first step to help expedite his immigration process.
Haidar hopes that Saudi Arabia will eventually pardon her husband and deport him to Canada, where he can live with his family.
With files from The Canadian Press