On the one year anniversary of his unjust imprisonment, PEN American Center joins the international call for the immediate release of Saudi writer and activist Raif Badawi and an end to the targeting of government critics in Saudi Arabia. 

In May 2104, a court in Jeddah sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for “insulting Islam” as a result of his peaceful opposition to government policies. After public outrage followed the first 50 lashes in January 2015, Saudi authorities have repeatedly suspended the remainder of the floggings on “medical advice.”  However, there has been no confirmation that the floggings will not resume and Badawi continues to be confined and at risk for mistreatment.

“The use of apostasy laws to punish dissent is a widespread and very concerning problem because of its devastating impact on freedom of expression,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression programs at PEN. “Raif Badawi is an innocent man who has been unjustly subjected to a horrific form of punishment solely for peacefully expressing his views. The international community must continue to strenuously object to this treatment and call for his release.”

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Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. www.pen.org

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: kdkarlekar@pen.org,  +1 646-779-4822
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646-779-4830