NEW: Raif Badawi is not flogged on Friday, as some had expected
Badawi got 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for his blog and online comments
He received the first 50 in January, and the next round was postponed for health reasons
Raif Badawi set up a website to express his views and those of others. For that he was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes with a whipping cane.
To Saudi Arabian authorities, the blogger is a criminal. And for that, he is to be publicly flogged – as happened in January, when he stoically arched his back in pain while getting 50 lashes.
He’s supposed to get 19 more rounds of such punishment, according to the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. The second batch of 50 lashes was supposed to come not long after the first, but it’s been pushed back several times – including Friday.
Amnesty reported as much on Twitter, as did Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar.
“No flogging for today,” Haidar wrote on her husband’s Twitter account. “I repeat my appeal to his majesty King Salman to pardon my husband #RaifBadawi and stop his flogging.”
‘Saudi Arabian Liberals’
Badawi has been behind bars since 2012 for his online posts and running a blog called “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” where he hosted political and religious debate and advocated secularism in a highly religious society.
In 2013, a court originally sentenced him to seven years and 600 lashes, but the punishment was upped upon appeal, Human Rights Watch has said. The sharper measures also includes a fine of about $265,000, the group said.
The sentencing covers convictions for violating the kingdom’s information technology law, insulting Islam, and according to HRW, “blasphemous phrases on his Facebook page and disobedience to his father.”
On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence, now Badawi has no more appeals.
50 lashes, 20 times
The lashings were supposed to happen about once a week for 20 weeks, in a place open to public viewing.
A light wooden cane is used for the lashes, which are administered on the legs and back, HRW said. They usually leave bruises but don’t often break the skin.
But eight days after the initial flogging, doctors determined that Badawi’s injuries had not healed sufficiently to be flogged for the second time, Amnesty International reported. Another round would be detrimental, they said.
The second beating has been postponed many times, including on Friday.
“His health is poor, and he cannot take another round of lashes,” Badawi’s wife, Haidar, told Amnesty then.
On top of health concerns, the first lashing ignited international outcry from human rights activists and from Western governments.
Before the supreme court decision, U.S. officials had called on Saudi officials to withdraw the sentence and review Badawi’s case.
Human Rights Watch said in protest at the time, “Publicly lashing a peaceful activist merely for expressing his ideas sends an ugly message of intolerance.”
CNN’s Greg Botelho contributed to this report.