Wife of imprisoned Saudi blogger speaks out at vigil outside federal offices

The wife of a Saudi blogger who was flogged 50 times last week after being convicted of insulting Islam has defended the actions of her husband.

MONTREAL — The wife of a Saudi blogger who was flogged 50 times last week after being convicted of insulting Islam has defended the actions of her husband.

Ensaf Haidar went public today with a statement she read at a vigil outside federal government offices in Montreal.

Speaking through an interpreter, Haidar said Raif Badawi is in prison simply for expressing his liberal opinions in a country she believes has returned to the days of the inquisition.

The mother of three says Saudi Arabia spends billions of dollars to present an image of being democratic and progressive, while imprisoning hundreds of people for expressing their views.

At an earlier news conference, representatives of the federal NDP, the Parti Quebecois and Quebec solidaire urged Ottawa and Quebec to do more to help free Badawi.

Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes after he criticized Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on a liberal blog he founded.

International Development Minister Christian Paradis was asked about Badawi at a news conference in Quebec City on Tuesday and said the case is complicated because he is not a Canadian citizen.