A blogger-cum-activist Raif Badawi, who has been under glass and openly thrashed for reproaching Saudi Arabia’s religious set-up, was honoured with Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union’s top human rights award, on Thursday.
The president of the European Parliament Matin Schulz announced the award and called on the Saudi administration to immediately release Mr Badawi.
The prize named after nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, who led the Soviet Union’s development of the hydrogen bomb and then turned out to be a tireless warrior to fight for human rights.
Earlier, the activist was put behind bars in 2012 over charges that included apostasy, cyber-crime and disobeying his father. Later on, he started website to censure the Saudi religious establishment and in 2013, he was sentenced to seven years along with 600 lashes. He was re-sentenced to 10 years with 1,000 lashes the next year.
His lawyer was also arrested in Saudi Arabia and sentenced to 15 years in prison over undermining the government, provoking public opinion and thrashing the judiciary.
Meanwhile, when officials at the Saudi Mission to the European Union, in Brussels were approached said the kingdom did not have a response to the announcement of awarding Mr Badawi. The official pointed to a previous statement and that it wasn’t the place of unrelated to criticize it.