German minister sought pardon for jailed Saudi blogger

Reuters , Monday 9 Mar 2015

Raef Badawi
Raef Badawi( Photo: Reuters)

The German economy minister and vice chancellor on Monday said he had discussed human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and suggested a pardon for the Kingdom's imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

Sigmar Gabriel met Saudi government officials on Sunday as part of a Gulf tour.

"We asked for a solution in dignity," he told reporters at a joint news conference in Abu Dhabi with the economy minister of the United Arab Emirates.

In Germany if a person is sentenced to prison the president has the right to pardon them, he said.

"So we asked for a solution which is possible, maybe through the same way we are doing in Germany. That was the discussion," he said, without elaborating.

Last year, Saudi authorities sentenced blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and a fine of 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam" on a blog.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday defended its human rights record in its first public reaction to protests Western countries and campaigns by international rights groups to free Badawi.

An unnamed foreign ministry official told state media the country has an independent judiciary and "does not accept interference in any form in its internal affairs."

The German delegation led by Gabriel attended the 10th session of the joint commission on economic and technical cooperation between the UAE and Germany on Monday. 

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