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Saudi Blogger To Be Publicly Flogged For Insulting Islam

A Saudi blogger sentenced in May to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes will be publicly flogged Friday in Jeddah, The Associated Press is reporting, citing a person close to the case.

Raif Badawi was found guilty of insulting Islam on Free Saudi Liberals, a website he created, and also ordered to pay about $266,000 in fines. A court originally sentenced him to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, but a judge increased the sentence after an appeal. Amnesty International said he will receive 50 lashes each week for 20 weeks.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. was greatly concerned at Badawi's punishment "for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion."

"The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi's case and sentence," she said.

Amnesty International said it too had learned of Badawi's impending punishment.

"It is horrifying to think that such a vicious and cruel punishment should be imposed on someone who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression," Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa director for the group, said in a statement.

Badawi's wife and children moved to Canada after he was arrested and his website has been closed.

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