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Middle East: Saudi Arabia: Saudi-blogger Raif Badawi awarded 2015 Sakharov Prize

The European Union's top human rights prize was awarded Thursday to a persecuted 31-year-old Saudi blogger arrested more than three years ago for his criticism of the oil-rich Gulf Arab kingdom.

The announcement was received with a standing ovation at the European Parliament assembly in Strasbourg, France.

"I urge the king of Saudi Arabia to free him, so he can accept the prize," European Parliament President Martin Schulz said. "Relations depend on human rights being respected by our partners ... they are not only not being respected but are being trod underfoot."

Badawi co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network. He was arrested in June 2012 under cybercrime provisions, and a judge ordered the website shut down after it criticized Saudi Arabia's religious police.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam; he received 50 public lashes in January before the punishment was suspended on health grounds.

Read more: Saudi-blogger Raif Badawi awarded 2015 Sakharov Prize | News | DW.COM | 29.10.2015

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