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Saudi Court Denies Blogger's Appeal

FILE - An Amnesty International activist holds a picture of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi during a protest against his flogging punishment, in front of Saudi Arabia's embassy in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 29, 2015.

Saudi Arabia's top court upheld a 10-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes for a blogger convicted of insulting Islam, his wife said Sunday.

Despite appeals from human rights organizations and the United Nations, Raif Badawi received the first 50 lashes earlier this year.

The 31-year-old father of three was arrested in 2012, accused by Saudi authorities of apostasy and undermining security in the country through the online forum he started to encourage public debate.

The corporal punishment for Badawi, co-founder of the website Liberal Saudi Network, is to be carried out in 20 weekly sessions of 50 whippings each. However, subsequent lashes are delayed over health concerns following the first round.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, said flogging at the very least is a "cruel and inhuman punishment" that is prohibited under international human rights law, in particular the Convention Against Torture. Saudi Arabia ratified the treaty in 1997.

Before he was lashed for the first time, earlier this year, the State Department urged Saudi authorities to cancel what it called the "brutal" and "inhumane" punishment. It added that the United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercises of the freedoms of expression and religion.

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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