Saudi Arabia confirms 10-year travel ban for freed blogger Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been released from prison in Saudi Arabia after serving a 10-year sentence for advocating an end to religious influence on public life, his wife told AFP. (Photo: AFP)
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia confirmed Saturday a 10-year travel ban for freed blogger and human rights activist Raif Badawi, who has become a symbol of freedom of expression around the world.اضافة اعلان

"The sentence handed down to Raif was 10 years in prison followed by a travel ban for the same length of time. The court ruling holds up and is final," an interior ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. 

"Therefore, he cannot leave the kingdom for another 10 years unless a (royal) pardon is issued," the official said, a day after Badawi was released from detention.

Badawi, now 38, was arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia in 2012 on charges of "insulting Islam". 

At the end of 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 50 lashes a week for twenty weeks.

His first flogging in the kingdom's Jeddah square shocked the world and was described by the UN as "cruel and inhuman." After the outcry, he was not lashed again.

On Friday, Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with their three children, told AFP: "Raif called me. He is free." 

It was later confirmed by a Saudi security official, but details of Badawi's release were not revealed.

Amnesty International said on Friday it would "actively work to have any conditions lifted", noting that Badawi could face a 10-year travel ban.

Raif Badawi's sister, Samar Badawi, as well as activist Nassima Al-Sadah, released in 2021, also remain stranded in the kingdom.

Canada's Quebec province has paved the way for Badawi to come to the country if he chooses by placing him on a priority list of potential immigrants for humanitarian reasons.

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