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Germany’s Gabriel to appeal for release of Saudi blogger

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German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was set to appeal for the release of liberal blogger Raif Badawi at a meeting with the Saudi Arabian King Salman on Sunday.

Badawi was sentenced last year to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for allegedly insulting Islam.

The first of the lashings were carried out in January, prompting widespread criticism of the country’s human rights record and its laws on religious and political expression.

“We will try to make clear that the severity of this punishment, especially corporal punishment, is unfathomable to us and that it will of course strain bilateral ties,” Gabriel told reporters ahead of his meeting with the monarch.

Gabriel, also the head of the centre-left Social Democrats, is leading a delegation of nearly 80 German business leaders. His Gulf tour will also take the delegation to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Earlier on Sunday, Gabriel held a meeting with three female human rights activists to coincide with Global Womens’ Day. SAPA

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