Saudi postpones flogging of blogger again

Delayed on medical grounds

DUBAI - Rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that Saudi Arabia would postpone the flogging of blogger Raef Badawi, whose case has sparked international criticism, for a second week on medical grounds.
"The planned flogging of Raef Badawi will be suspended this Friday after a medical committee assessed that he should not undergo a second round of lashes on health grounds," the London-based watchdog said in a statement.
He has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam and is serving a 10-year jail sentence.
Badawi, 30, received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9.
He was expected to undergo 20 flogging sessions to complete the punishment but last Friday his wife said the second round had been delayed on medical grounds.
Ensaf Haidar, who has sought asylum in Canada, also said her husband's case has been referred to the supreme court, possibly paving the way for an appeal.
Amnesty said a committee of several doctors carried out a series of tests at a Jeddah hospital on Wednesday and recommended against a new session of caning.
But "there is no way of knowing whether the Saudi Arabian authorities will disregard the medical advice and allow the flogging to go ahead," Said Boumedouha, Amnesty's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said in the statement.
Amnesty called for the blogger's immediate and unconditional release, "instead of continuing to torment Raef Badawi by dragging out his ordeal".