Sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi released after detention in Saudi Arabia

Sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi released after detention in Saudi Arabia

MONTREAL – Amnesty International’s Quebec branch said on Wednesday the eldest sister of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been released after 24 hours in detention.

Samar Badawi was freed from a Saudi jail earlier in the day but a spokeswoman for Amnesty said it wasn’t clear under what conditions.

Badawi was detained for allegedly posting on the Twitter account of her brother’s lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair.

It was unclear if there was a bail attached to her release, but Amnesty’s spokeswoman Anne Ste-Marie said Samar Badawi is due back with authorities for interrogation on Thursday.

Abulkhair is Samar Badawi’s former husband, according to the human rights group.

Raif Badawi, who is not a Canadian citizen, was arrested in 2012 for his criticism of Saudi clerics and was convicted in 2014.

He was sentenced to 10 years in jail as well as 1,000 lashes. He received the first 50 last January during a public flogging.

His imprisonment has drawn widespread condemnation both internationally and in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month he had no “immediate plans” to call Saudi Arabian authorities to ask that Badawi be freed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion raised the matter with his Saudi counterpart, Adel Al Jubeir, when they met in Ottawa on Dec. 17.

They discussed the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia as well as Badawi’s case, where Dion reiterated a request for clemency.

Raif Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar and their three children live in Sherbrooke, Que.

Mireille Elchacar, a spokeswoman for Amnesty in the Eastern Townships town, said information about the release hasn’t been easy to find.

“Saudi justice works in a rather arbitrary and opaque way, so it is difficult to get information, and of course, to know what their next move is,” said Elchacar.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International decried Samar Badawi’s arrest, calling it yet another example of Saudi Arabia’s “utter contempt” for its human rights obligations.

The organization quoted local activists as saying Badawi was arrested in Jeddah and then transferred along with her two-year-old daughter, Joud, to a police station.

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