The office of the Saudi king has referred to the Supreme Court the case of an activist who had earlier been sentenced to 1,000 lashes following an international outcry over the ruling.
Raif Badawi is now hopeful that the punishment will be revoked altogether, his wife, Ensaf Haidar, said on Friday.
The decisionscame after the Saudi judiciary postponed the blogger’s second round of flogging for seven days.
Last Friday, Badawi received the first 50 lashes out of 1,000 public floggings after he was convicted of what was described as cybercrime and insulting Wahhabism.
His persecution began in 2008 after he co-founded the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, where he criticized influential Saudi clerics who follow Wahhabism, a sect which originated in Saudi Arabia.
Although his lawyers appealed for a retrial, the sentence was upheld last May. He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, to be carried out in 20 sessions in front of a mosque, ten years of imprisonment, one-million-riyal fine ($266,000), 10-year ban on overseas travel abroad after his release, and a 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media after his release.
Criticism of Wahhabi clerics is viewed as a red line as they play a vital role in supporting the Al Saud regime’s policies.
International human rights organizations have lashed out at Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.