Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is still not free after serving 10 years in prison

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was released two years ago, on March 11, 2022, after spending 10 years in prison. However, he still faces restrictions that prevent him from travelling and expressing himself freely. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Saudi authorities to lift these restrictions immediately, allowing him to reunite with his family in Canada and bring an end to his ordeal.

Raif Badawi, the 40-year-old co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network blog, had completed his 10-year prison sentence and endured 50 lashes for “insulting Islam.” Despite his release, he still faces a 10-year travel ban, preventing him from leaving Saudi Arabia for another eight years, while his family resides in Canada. Additionally, he is prohibited from expressing his opinions online, using social media, or communicating with the news media.

His perceived freedom is overshadowed by these restrictions; sinister tactics employed against activists and human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia that underscore the oppressive environment that persists in the country.

Raif Badawi, one of the world’s most prominent human rights defenders, has received significant international recognition, including the prestigious Sakharov Prize, Europe’s highest honor. He has also been granted honorary citizenship by the City of Montreal, the Province of Quebec, and the Canadian Parliament. Although he is not yet a Canadian citizen, his wife and children are.

A representative from Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human rights said,

“Our efforts on Raif’s behalf will persist until he is truly free. We once again urge the Saudi authorities to lift all restrictions preventing Raif from reuniting with his family.”

“We also call for the immediate release of his lawyer, Waleed Abulkair, from prison, and his sister, fellow human rights advocate Samar Badawi, from house arrest.”

“We stand in solidarity with Raif, his fellow Saudi human rights activists, and all those who suffer under oppressive regimes, where the illusion of freedom is marred by invisible chains.”

Jonathan Dagher, the Head of the Middle East desk at Reporters Without Borders said,

“Raif Badawi is still not free, he is still a prisoner in his own country. We call on the Saudi authorities to immediately lift the restrictions placed on him so that he can join his family in Canada and recover all of his freedoms. Blogging is not a crime! This relentless punishment needs to end.”