NEWSWEEK – BY JACK MOORE
Defenders of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are readying to take his case to the highest levels of international diplomacy after Saudi Arabia rejected a call to release him and allow him to join his family in Canada.
Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion requested that Badawi be released to the country, where Canadian authorities have granted his family asylum, on October 18.
Dion said it would be “unacceptable” for Saudi Arabia to proceed with a new round of lashes against the liberal writer, amid reports from inside the Kingdom that Riyadh is preparing to resume the punishment that rights groups have condemned as a crackdown on freedoms in the country.
Evelyne Abitbol—co-founder, alongside Badawi’s wife Ensaf, of the Canada-based Raif Badawi Foundation—says that the organization and Badawi’s relatives are now “preparing something” to take to the United Nations in the coming months in order to pressure Riyadh.
“We are preparing something and we think we are going to go in December, maybe the middle of November, but Ensaf has to travel again,” she tells Newsweek on the phone from Montreal. “But we are preparing something, I cannot tell you how because it’s very delicate.”
It remains unclear what move Badawi’s wife could make at the global body, as she has previously addressed a U.N. press conference about her husband’s case. Abitbol admits that “frankly, it’s hard to go” to the U.N. human rights council when Saudi Arabia is a member.