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Saudi website founder gets seven years, 600 lashes

Authorities say Free Saudi Liberals website 'undermines general security'

Saudi website founder gets seven years, 600 lashes
Badawi was charged with 'setting up a website that undermines general security' and ridiculing Islamic religious figures.

The founder of an anti-government website in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to seven years jail and 600 lashes, according to international blogging website Global Voices.

The Free Saudi Liberals website claimed to be an online forum for public discussions.

It had been blocked within the kingdom for several years and was shutdown when its founder Raif Badawi was arrested in June 2012, Global Voices said.

Badawi, who ran the website from Jeddah, was charged with "setting up a website that undermines general security" and ridiculing Islamic religious figures.

In December he was also charged with apostasy (the abandonment of Islam), which carries the death penalty.

The judge requested Badawi to abandon his views, but he refused.

Badawi's wife and three children fled Saudi Arabia following his arrest and are in exile in Beirut, according to Global Voices.

Amnesty International reportedly described Badawi as "a prisoner of conscience detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression" and demanded his immediate, unconditional release.

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