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Canada to press Saudi king to release blogger Badawi

Ottawa: Foreign Minister Stephane Dion has said he would formally ask Saudi Arabia to release jailed blogger Raif Badawi and allow him to rejoin his wife and children living in Canada.

Dion made the remarks yesterday prior to a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s chief human rights official, Bandar Bin Mohammed Al-Aiban.

“We will continue to seek clemency from the (Saudi) king for someone who has just expressed his opinion and we will ask that this person, Mr. Badawi, be allowed to reunite with his family,” Dion told reporters.

Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar has lived in Canada as a refugee with their three children since her husband’s arrest in 2012 and conviction for insulting Islam.

He is serving 10 years in jail and has received 50 lashes of a 1,000-lash sentence that caused international outrage.

Dion and visiting Saudi Human Rights Commission president Al-Aiban were scheduled to meet to talk about “a full range of human rights issues, including the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi,” according to the foreign ministry.

The pair were scheduled to also participate in a round table on human rights.