Prison, lashes for liberal Saudi web forum founder

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The founder of a liberal-minded website in Saudi Arabic has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes after angering Islamic authorities in the ultraconservative kingdom, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Raif Badawi, through his website known as Free Saudi Liberals, had urged Saudis to share opinions about the role of religion in the country, which follows a strict form of Islam that includes harsh punishments for challenging customs.

A judge in the Red Sea port of Jiddah imposed the sentences but dropped charges of apostasy, which could have brought a death sentence, the Al-Watan newspaper reported. Badawi has been held since June 2012.

The newspaper did not name the judge who sentenced Badawi, nor did it say when the ruling was handed down. It was unclear Tuesday whether Badawi would receive any credit for the time he’s already served.

Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the U.S. was “deeply concerned” by the sentence given to Badawi.

“We believe that when public speech is deemed offensive, be it via social media or any other means, the issue is best addressed through open dialogue and honest debate,” Psaki said.

Hard-line Saudi clerics have raised repeated objections to social media, including one prominent Islamic scholar describing Twitter as a path to hell. He later withdrew the comment.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

After work to address issues, Lynnwood gets clean audit

The city has benefited from increased revenues from sales tax.

Bolshevik replaces BS in Eyman’s voters pamphlet statement

The initiative promoter also lost a bid to include a hyperlink to online coverage of the battle.

Man with shotgun confronts man on toilet about missing phone

Police say the victim was doing his business when the suspect barged in and threatened him.

Detectives seek suspect in woman’s homicide

Alisha Michelle Canales-McGuire was shot to death Wednesday at a home south of Paine Field.

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

Voter registration deadline looms

Oct. 30 is the deadline for new voter registrations prior to the General Election.

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
One driven Panther

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson a student leader, social media master.

Most Read