German top diplomat raises Saudi blogger case in kingdom

19th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Germany's foreign minister said he had raised the case of detained Saudi blogger Raif Badawi with his hosts on Monday during a visit to the kingdom.

"We have addressed here also the situation of human rights," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after meeting King Salman.

"We have also discussed individual cases, including the one you have mentioned," Steinmeier told reporters.

"But understand that we carry out these discussions in a confidential manner."

However, he said that he had underlined, very explicitly, "that we are waiting for progress".

Worldwide outrage followed a court decision sentencing Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for insulting Islam, a verdict upheld this year by the supreme court.

Badawi received the first 50 lashes outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah in January but subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed.

Badawi co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group.

He was arrested in June 2012 under cybercrime provisions and a judge ordered the website shut after it criticised Saudi Arabia's religious police.

The network had also announced a "day of liberalism" and called for an end to the influence of religion on public life.

Last week Badawi became one of three people shortlisted by the European Parliament for its Sakharov human rights prize.

Other rights issues in Saudi Arabia also regularly draw international scrutiny.

The kingdom is the world's only country which does not allow women to drive.

Its use of the death penalty has accelerated this year, and activists have raised particular concern about two members of the minority Shiite community sentenced to death even though they were only 17 when arrested.

Steinmeier arrived in Riyadh from Iran on a mission largely focused on seeking ways to end the war in Syria.

© 2015 AFP

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