Hopes were raised on Wednesday that the sentence of jailed Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi could be reduced after his wife confirmed to Britain's Independent newspaper that Badawi's case was being reviewed by Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court.
"We confirmed today that my husband Raif Badawi's case has been returned to the Supreme Court," Ensaf Haider wrote in an email to the Independent. "The case now is under discussion again."
Haider said a senior source in the Saudi Ministry of Justice had informed her of the development, which followed a different review of the case earlier this year, the Independent reports. In that previous review, the Saudi Supreme Court upheld Badawi's sentence, leading his family to believe that the only chance he stood for a reduction was by royal pardon.
Haider's comments come after confusion arose in July when a UK Foreign Office minister told Britain's House of Commons that Badawi's case was being examined again in Saudi Arabia, the Independent reports. It took the blogger's family several weeks to establish that this was true, the newspaper said.
Baddawi was sentenced in May to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes after being charged with insulting Islam on a liberal online forum he had created. He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal, the judge stiffened the punishment. Following his arrest, his wife and children left Saudi Arabia for Canada.
Rights groups and activists have said his case was part of a wider clampdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia, where criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their influential role in supporting government policies.