As Saudi Arabia prepares for 2020 G20, human rights advocates renew call for Raif Badawi's release
Ensaf Haidar stands next to a poster of a book of articles written by the imprisoned Saudi blogger and Haidar's husband, Raif Badawi, on June 16, 2015 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, August 18, 2019 1:09PM EDT
Lawyers and allies of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are increasingly lobbying foreign governments in an effort to secure his release.
That's as Saudi Arabia prepares to host next year's G-20 meeting.
Human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler represents the family internationally.
He says advocates have been meeting with foreign governments, U-N representatives and others to encourage them to call for the release of Badawi, his sister Samar, their former lawyer and other imprisoned human rights defenders.
Badawi was arrested on June 17th, 2012 and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics.
Last month, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence called on Saudi Arabia to free Badawi as well as three other jailed dissidents, saying they have stood in defence of religious liberty.
In June, European Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala called Badawi's sentence unjust, disproportionate and arbitrary, and urged the Saudi government to free him.
Cotler plans to once again call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to grant Canadian citizenship to Badawi, which would ensure he could receive visits and has diplomatic protection that is not now authorized.