Supporters of jailed Saudi blogger start foundation to promote free speech

Supporters of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are starting a foundation in his name to promote freedom of expression worldwide and to support writers and journalists in the Arab world.

MONTREAL — Supporters of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are starting a foundation in his name to promote freedom of expression worldwide and to support writers and journalists in the Arab world.

Co-founder Evelyne Abitbol announced the foundation today in Montreal and said Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and dissident writer Salman Rushdie have been named honorary members.

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, is the other co-founder and addressed reporters today from Germany by video conference.

Abitbol is calling on the heads of Canada’s main political parties to propose measures to help accelerate Badawi’s release from a Saudi jail.

Badawi, 31, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2012 for publishing blog posts advocating human rights and democracy in his country.

His wife and children fled Saudi Arabia in 2012 and settled in Quebec in 2013.