Jailed blogger: Canada told to butt out

OTTAWA — Canada needs to start minding its own business when it comes to jailed blogger Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian ambassador said Tuesday.

Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his criticism of Saudi clerics.

He received the first 50 lashes but is believed to have been spared the others because of his poor health.

Ambassador Naif Bin Bandir Alsudairy said Ottawa must respect rulings handed down in his country’s justice system and stop raising Badawi’s case with Saudi authorities.

“It’s a court decision we have to respect,” he told reporters in Ottawa. “We respect court decisions here in Canada and we believe Canadian friends should respect Saudi court decisions.”

Asked whether his comments amounted to telling the federal government to “mind your own business” and stop pressing the Saudi government, the ambassador replied, “You’re absolutely right.”

Badawi’s imprisonment has drawn widespread international condemnation and Amnesty International has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of not doing enough to free him.

Badawi is not a Canadian citizen but his wife and three children live in Sherbrooke, Que.

The children appealed to Trudeau in a video message last month, asking him to personally call Saudi authorities to ask for his release.

Badawi’s spouse, Ensaf Haidar, has met with leaders in Canada and around the world while campaigning for his release.

More than 200 rallies to protest Badawi’s imprisonment have been held in Quebec alone.

Global Affairs Canada has said the government has raised Badawi’s case at the highest levels and continues to call for clemency.

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