The wife of an Egyptian human rights lawyer imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2012 has sent a letter to interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Bablawi, urging him to request a pardon from Saudi authorities ahead of his trip to the kingdom on Tuesday.
In April 2012, Ahmed El-Gizawi was arrested while on a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison along with 300 lashes for allegedly trying to smuggle prescription drugs into the ultra-conservative kingdom. Egyptian activists say the charges were trumped up by the Saudis after his public criticism of the Gulf country's rampant human rights violations.
In the letter sent to El-Bablawi by his wife, Sherine, she said that El-Gizawi "has a tumour in his stomach that makes him unable to stand on his feet for more than 10 minutes."
The letter, posted by relatives to Facebook, argues that according to Saudi law, a convicted criminal can be pardoned for memorising part of the Quran, which El-Gizawi has done.
She also states that in order for a convict be pardoned, he or she must have completed a quarter of the jail sentence. El-Gizawi has completed more than half of his, she argues.
El-Gizawi's flogging were supposed to begin on 25 January of this year, at a rate of 50 flogs per month. The floggings have been postponed, however.
The lawyer's arrest and sentence have caused controversy in Egypt.
At the time of his arrest, hundreds of Egyptian protesters rallied outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo demanding his release, prompting the kingdom to shut down its mission here.
The embassy reopened on May 4 following a fence-mending visit to Riyadh by a large delegation of prominent Egyptian figures.