Saudi activist sentenced to 7 years, 600 lashes for urging freedom to worship

Saudi activist sentenced to 7 years, 600 lashes for urging freedom to worship

A Saudi online activist has been jailed for seven years and sentenced to 600 lashes for urging religious liberalisation, his lawyer has said.

The activist, Raef Badawi, co-founded the Free Saudi Liberals website, an online forum for public debate.

He was arrested last year and convicted on Monday of setting up a website that undermined general security.

Amnesty International considers Mr Badawi a political prisoner and has called for his immediate release.

Mr Badawi was originally charged with apostasy, or abandonment of religion, a crime in Saudi Arabia that carries with it the death penalty.

Lawyer Waleed Abu Alkhair told the BBC that Mr Badawi, a father of three, had confirmed in court that he was a Muslim but told the judge “everyone has a choice to believe or not believe.”

He was convicted of the charges of setting up a website that undermines general security and of ridiculing religious figures.

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