Imprisoned Saudi blogger goes on hunger strike

Imprisoned Saudi blogger goes on hunger strike
2 min read
11 December, 2015
Jailed blogger Raif Badawi has gone a hunger strike in Saudi Arabia after being transferred to a new "isolated" prison, his wife, Ensaf Haidar, said on Thursday.
Badawi's sentence has caused an international outcry [Getty]

Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi who is sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam has gone on hunger strike his wife revealed on Thursday.

In a tweet, Ensaf Haider said her husband was transferred to an isolated prison by Saudi authorities and had gone on hunger strike on Tuesday to protest his transfer.

"We are very alarmed at the prison administration decision to transfer my husband to the Shabbat Central and fear it may lead to the resumption of his flogging," Haider wrote on her Facebook page.

"As a result of this decision, Raif started in Tuesday a hunger [s]trike and we hold the prison administration responsible for any harm that Raif may suffer," she added.

The Saudi writer and activist is the co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network internet discussion group.

He was arrested in 2012, and brought to court on several charges including insulting Islam using electronic channels, and apostasy - which carries an automatic death sentence.

A judge also ordered his website to be shut down for criticising Saudi Arabia's religious police.

In 2013, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. His sentence was extended in 2014, and, in mid-January 2015, it was passed to the Saudi Supreme Court for review.

Born in 1984, Badawi is married to Ensaf Haidar and they have three children. His family are currently living in Canada, where they moved after receiving death threats.

He was first detained on apostasy charge in 2008, and later banned from leaving the country in 2009.

In 2012, Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience.

Badawi has been given several international awards, including the Courage Award 2015 from the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, and the European Union's prestigious Sakharov Prize for human rights.

Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence in January, prompting strong criticism in Western countries of the kingdom's human rights record.