Ensaf Haidar(C), the wife of the Saudi Blogger Raef Badawi, holds a vigil in Montreal, Quebec on January 13, 2015. (Agence France-Presse)
The wife of a Saudi blogger who was publicly flogged for "insulting Islam" called for his release Tuesday.
"My husband, Raef Badawi, is imprisoned for simply expressing liberal ideas," Ensaf Haidar, who sought asylum in Canada with her three children after Badawi was arrested, told a news conference in Montreal.
In September, a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison as well as the 1,000 lashes for Badawi, who has been behind bars since June 2012.
The 31-year-old received a first instalment of 50 lashes last Friday and is expected to have 20 weekly whipping sessions until his punishment is complete.
"We're here so that he won't have to endure another 50 lashes next Friday," said Beatrice Vaugrante of Amnesty International.
"We talk a lot about freedom of speech nowadays: I am Charlie, I am Raef Badawi," she said. "This concerns Canada, it concerns all Western nations that advocate freedom of expression."
The Canadian government has called the public lashing "inhumane" but said it was limited in what it could do for Badawi beyond expressions of outrage as the blogger is not Canadian.