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Prisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi granted Canadian citizenship

Toronto: Canada on Thursday granted citizenship to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who has been in prison in his home country for nine years and whose wife and three children live in Canada.

The motion adopted on Wednesday, asked Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to use his “discretionary power” to grant Canadian citizenship to Badawi, “in order to remedy a particular situation and unusual distress”, Al Jazeera reported.

Badawi had blogged about free speech and was accused by Saudi authorities of “insulting Islam”. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. He was later resentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2014.

In January 2015, he received part of the beatings, but the rest of the sessions, which were to be carried out weekly, were suspended after a global outcry.

Badawi has been the most high-profile case where a person has been given flogging as punishment before Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court abolished it in late April as a form of physical punishment.

The blogger was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize the following year.

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