For the Record | Statement on the Sentence of Saudi Human Rights Activist

Published: January 8, 2015

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Today the United States Government expressed its position privately and publicly about concern with the punishment decided in the case of human rights activist Raif Badawi:

U.S. State Department
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 8, 2015

We are greatly concerned by reports that human rights activist Raif Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of a 1,000 lashes, in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion. The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence. The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms, and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice.

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Excerpt from Daily Press Briefing
Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 8, 2015

Excerpt

MS. PSAKI: No one knows who you were referring to. (Laughter.) Welcome back to those of you that I haven’t seen yet. Happy New Year.

I just have one item at the top: We are greatly concerned by reports that human rights activist Raif Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of a thousand lashes in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion. The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence. The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice.

I also just want to flag I have a time issue on the back end here, so let’s get to any – as many issues as we possibly can. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I was going to ask about that – what you just talked about —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: — anyway, so let’s start there. Just what happens if the Saudis go ahead and do this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, obviously we’ve expressed our views. This announcement just came out this morning. We’ve certainly expressed our views privately. I’m not going to get into a discussion about what happens next. Obviously, we’re just making clear our opposition to this.

Source: U.S. State Department

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