May 17, 2017 - Updated on May 18, 2017

RSF and English PEN join Ensaf Haidar in renewing calls for Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s release on eve of five-year anniversary of his arrest

In a series of events and meetings the week of 15 May in London, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and English PEN have renewed their calls for the release of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, and urged the UK government to speak out in Badawi’s support.

Just one month before the five-year anniversary of Badawi’s arrest on 17 June, RSF and English PEN hosted Badawi’s wife, activist and author Ensaf Haidar, in London. During her visit, Haidar met with human rights campaigners and lawyers working on Badawi’s case, gave interviews to the print and broadcast media, spoke at a public event at Doughty Street Chambers, and joined a vigil outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia calling for her husband’s release.

“I have felt so much support for Raif from the human rights community here in London; it is great to know we are not alone. Every voice speaking out in his support matters. We must continue our efforts for Raif’s release so that he is not forgotten”, said Ensaf Haidar.

“Every single day that Raif Badawi spends unjustly jailed is another day that he remains at serious risk. We hope that Ensaf Haidar’s visit to London will help build the momentum needed to finally allow for her husband’s release – particularly in encouraging the UK government to take a stronger position. International pressure can and does work, and is urgently needed to protect Raif now”, said Rebecca Vincent, RSF’s UK Bureau Director.

“Raif Badawi has spent nearly five years in prison for doing no more than exercising the right to freedom of expression. It is time for the UK government to use its influence to demand his immediate release and assess the cost of its close relationship with Saudi Arabia on its international reputation as a defender of human rights”, said Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN.

Raif Badawi was awarded the PEN Pinter International Writer of Courage Prize 2015, and the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2014. Saudi Arabia is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

Press contacts: Rebecca Vincent at [email protected] or +44 (0)7583 137751, or Jo Glanville at [email protected] or +44 (0)7713 020971.