Saudis Release Human Rights Activist Samar Badawi

Last week, the Center for Inquiry was amongst the first organizations to learn and report that Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi had been arrested for allegedly operating the Twitter account of her husband, jailed human rights attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair. Ms. Badawi is also the sister of jailed dissident Raif Badawi, and Mr. al-Khair was Mr. Badawi’s lawyer before he himself was jailed.

Immediately upon learning of the development, CFI issued a statement calling for Badawi’s unconditional release:

“I have worked personally with Samar, and she is one of the most impressive, courageous, and devoted activists I have ever met,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s main representative to the United Nations, who met Ms. Badawi at the UN Human Rights Council in September 2014 when CFI spoke out behalf of her husband. “She is a shining example of the kind of meaningful impact an individual can have, despite incredible odds and unthinkable oppression. Her detention now speaks to how desperate and inhuman Saudi Arabia has become to intimidate, silence, and punish critics.”

“When Secretary Clinton presented Samar with the Women of Courage award, she told her, ‘You are making a difference, and we thank you for that,” noted De Dora. “The State Department can best thank her, right now, by doing all they can to secure her freedom and safety, and Secretary Clinton and First Lady Obama should use their platforms as globally admired figures to rally the world to this cause.”

Fortunately, she was released after about one day. CNN reports:

Samar Badawi, a notable human rights activist in Saudi Arabia, was released Wednesday after being detained by law enforcement the day before.

Gen. Mansour al-Turki, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said that Badawi was not arrested, contrary to the claims of multiple human rights activists. Rather, “she was subject to a questioning session by the district police upon the request of the bureau of investigation and public prosecution,” according to al-Turki.

Ali Adubisi, director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, said Badawi returned home.

“According to what I know up to this moment, there are no subsequent steps relating to an investigation or a trial,” he said.

Badawi’s case appeared to be connected to her role in lobbying for the release of her brother, Raif, and her former spouse, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Their imprisonments have drawn the ire of human rights and free speech advocates.

 We will continue to track this case and provide updates when possible.