UPDATED: Saudi blogger Raif Badawi wins EU Sakharov rights prize: Sources

AFP , Thursday 29 Oct 2015

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam, was awarded the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize on Thursday.

Parliament head Martin Schulz, announcing the award, denounced the sentence the pro-democracy blogger faces as "brutal torture" and called on Saudi King Salman to free Badawi immediately and to ensure the respect of human rights.

"This man has had ... imposed on him one of the most cruel penalities which can only be described as brutal torture," Schulz said.

"I call on the Saudi king to immediately free him," he told a packed assembly, adding that the 28-nation European Union expected its partners to live up to its standards on the crucial question of human rights.

"Relations depend on human rights being respected by our partners ... they are not only not being respected but are being trod underfoot," he said in remarks translated from the German.

A Saudi Arabian court sentenced Badawi, 31, to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail last year for insulting Islam but halted the whippings after a first round of 50 lashes sparked global outrage.

The Saudi authorities then halted the punishment but his wife, who fled to Canada with their children, said earlier this week that the flogging would resume soon.

Citing an "informed source," Ensaf Haidar said "Saudi authorities have given the green light to the resumption of Raif Badawi's flogging."

The flogging will take place "soon," at the prison where Badawi is held, she said on a website dedicated to her husband's plight.

Among the other nominees for the award Thursday were assassinated Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and a Venezuelan opposition group.

The prize is given every year to honour individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.

Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege for helping victims of gang rapes by soldiers.

Past winners include Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, late South African rights icon Nelson Mandela and Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

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