Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges French President François Hollande to officially request Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s release during a two-day visit to Riyadh that begins today.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges French President François Hollande to officially request Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s release during a two-day visit to Riyadh that begins today. During his visit, Hollande is to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and to become the first western leader to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council states, at which he will be received with great pomp. Reporters Without Borders thinks he should seize the opportunity to make a firm, public request for the release of Badawi, winner of the 2014 RSF Press Freedom Prize, who was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes on 7 May 2014. “It is inconceivable that France could continue saying nothing about the barbaric sentence imposed on this young blogger, who could at any time be retried for apostasy and sentenced to death,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “France must follow the example of the US state department, the European Parliament, Canada and Sweden, which have all publicly condemned this unjust sentence and called for Baidawi’s release. Human rights and freedom of information cannot be trampled on for the sake of the economic interests uniting Paris and Riyadh.” After Badawi was subjected to an initial session of 50 lashes on 9 January 2015, subsequent public flogging sessions were postponed without any new date being set. According to his wife, Ensaf Haidar, his case may be transferred to the Saudi supreme court, which could impose a death sentence.