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NEWS FLASH: Samar Badawi, human rights defender & sister of Raif Badawi, arrested in Saudi Arabia


Today's arrest of prominent human rights defender Samar Badawi is the latest example of Saudi Arabia’s utter contempt for its human rights obligations and provides further damning proof of the authorities’ ongoing campaign to suppress all signs of peaceful dissent. 

According to local activists, this morning Samar was arrested in Jeddah and transferred along with her two-year-old daughter Joud to a police station. She is believed to have been arrested at least partly in connection with her alleged role in managing a Twitter account campaigning for the release of her former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair.

“Samar Badawi’s arrest today is yet another alarming setback for human rights in Saudi Arabia and demonstrates the extreme lengths to which the authorities are prepared to go in their relentless campaign to harass and intimidate human rights defenders into silent submission,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.

“Just weeks after Saudi Arabia shocked the world by executing 47 people in a single day, including the Shi’a Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, it has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for human rights. Samar Badawi has been arrested purely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression, she must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

This is not the first time Samar has been arrested or imprisoned for her human rights work, including campaigning for women's right to drive. In December 2014 the Ministry of Interior issued a travel ban on Samar to prevent her from travelling to Brussels for a human rights event. 

Samar’s former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is serving a 15-year prison sentence also in connection with his work protecting and defending human rights in Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International’s supporters campaigned for Waleed's release during Write for Rights 2015. 

Samar is a strong defender for women's human rights in Saudi Arabia. Last year she shared with us a heartfelt letter about Waleed, who defended her while she was in prison before they were married. 

Samar's brother Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. He received the first 50 lashes just over a year ago.

Amnesty International is calling for all prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia to be immediately and unconditionally released. 
You can take action for all peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia

We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about this most recent arrest. Thank you for continuing to speak out for Samar, Raif, Waleed and all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. 


Hilary Homes
Campaigner, Middle East & North Africa
Amnesty International Canada 

P.S. Want to speak out? Here are 6 Ways you can help Raif Badawi and other activists in Saudi Arabia