Thirty-one year-old Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was today designated Sakharov Prize-winner* by the European Parliament's Conference of Group Presidents.

Arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and fined for insulting Islamic values on his website, Badawi who is still in prison, was administered a first set of 50 lashes in January 2015; the flogging was then postponed following an international outcry.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “We very much welcome that  Raif Badawi is the 2015 Sakharov Prize-winner.  He risked his freedom and physical integrity by writing and arguing for more political freedom. We cannot tolerate that someone who merely expressed his opinion publicly is persecuted and tortured by an authoritarian state. We call for an immediate release of Raif Badawi and all political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

“This is the first time the Sakharov Prize is awarded to somebody from the Gulf states where political opponents are oppressed by governing elites. Therefore, this year's award is emblematic not just for Saudi Arabia but for all Gulf countries and, especially, those who are currently threatened and condemned for their freedom of expression.

“Also by awarding the prize to a single candidate, the Parliament is sending a strong political signal that the award is destined to those who by their words and actions truly merit this award.

” We will also continue to call for justice for whistle-blowers Antoine Deltour, Edward Snowden and Stephanie Gibaud, whom our group initially nominated for the prize in the first round. It is due to them that the biggest scandals on abuses of power by the economic and political elites were revealed and which they have to pay for with their freedom.  Whistle-blowers who take such risks by denouncing scandals deserve to be recognised and protected.”

*The Sakharov prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe.



GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75

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