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Saudi rights advocate and sister of Raif Badawi arrested

Samar Badawi (C) received the International Women of Courage Award in 2012 [AFP]

Date of publication: 13 January, 2016

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Saudi Arabia has arrested Samar Badawi, prominent Saudi activist, in connection to her support for her brother jailed blogger Raif Badawi and husband lawyer and activist Waleed Abulkhair

Human rights groups and activists say one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent human rights advocates has been arrested.

Samar Badawi is the sister of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was lashed 50 times last year and is serving a 10-year prison sentence for insulting the kingdom's influential religious establishment.

She is also the wife of human rights lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence on charges related to his work, which included defending Raif Badawi.

Amnesty International and the Center for Inquiry say the arrest on Tuesday of Samar Badawi is believed to be linked to her alleged role in managing a Twitter account campaigning for the release of her husband.

Waleed Abulkhair was also sentenced to 10 years in jail with five years suspended after being convicted of charges including "inciting public opinion".

Meanwhile, Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012, and brought to court on several charges including insulting Islam using electronic channels, and apostasy - which carries an automatic death sentence.

A judge also ordered his website to be shut down for criticising Saudi Arabia's religious police.

In 2013, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.

His sentence was extended in 2014, and, in mid-January 2015, it was passed to the Saudi Supreme Court for review.

Born in 1984, Bedawi is married to Ensaf Haidar and they have three children. His family are currently living in Canada, where they moved after receiving death threats.

He was first detained on apostasy charge in 2008, and later banned from leaving the country in 2009.

In 2012, Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience.

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