NEW YORK—PEN implores the U.S. government and other international bodies with influence in Saudi Arabia to redouble their efforts to prevent the whipping of blogger Raif Badawi, scheduled to begin tomorrow at Alislahia Jail, Jeddah. The imminent and potentially deadly flogging violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and maltreatment.

In November, Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” and “founding a liberal website.” According to sources close to the case, Badawi will receive 50 lashes each Friday following morning prayers for 20 weeks, beginning tomorrow. The extended punishment is likely to push Badawi’s body to its outermost limits, causing severe long-term damage and possibly death.

The United States should make respect for human rights and international law a requisite for the kind of close relationship it shares with Saudi Arabia and its leader, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz bin Saud. We urge President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and congressional leaders with ties to Riyadh to continue unrelenting calls for the flogging to be halted immediately and for this profoundly unjust sentence to be rescinded, allowing Badawi to return to his family.


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 3,500 U.S. writers working to bring down barriers to free expression worldwide.

Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: 212.334.1660 x 4830,
Dominic Moran, Director of Free Expression Programs: 212.334.1660 x 4822,