A look at the detainees at the heart of Saudi-Canadian spat
By The Associated Press
Aug. 06, 2018
The case of Raif Badawi, a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison in Saudi Arabia, is at the heart of a diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada following the arrest of his activist sister, Samar.
Here's a look at their cases and the controversy.
CONVICTED FOR AN INSULT
In May 2014, a Saudi court convicted Badawi of insulting Islam for criticizing Saudi Arabia's powerful clerics on a liberal blog he founded. In January 2015, he received 50 lashes before a crowd of hundreds in Jiddah. Further floggings were suspended, though he remains imprisoned.
Badawi's case became an international call to arms for human rights groups, Western nations and others concerned about free speech. The U.S. State Department and the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights have called on the kingdom to rescind the sentence. Badawi's wife and three children later moved to Canada, and she became a Canadian citizen this year.
Saudi Arabia long has been sensitive to international pressure over the Badawi sentence. In 2015, the kingdom recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the Scandinavian country's foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship."
The arrest reported last week of the writer's sister, Samar Badawi, prompted the Canadian government to tweet about the case. She is a famed women's right activist who has been arrested previously by authorities. She was honored by the U.S. State Department in 2012 with an International Women in Courage Award.