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Samar Badawi, sister of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, arrested over release campaign

Samar Badawi, sister of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and former wife of Waleed Abu al-Khair, has been arrested. Amnesty International has said her arrest may be linked to a Twitter campaign to release her husband.

Samar Badawi is believed to have been arrested on Tuesday by Saudi authorities, according to Amnesty International and Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar.

Samar Badawi - a prominent Saudi human rights advocate - was accused of handling Waleed Abu al-Khair's Twitter account and campaigning for his release.

Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is a human rights lawyer and head of the Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights, is serving a 15-year sentence for charges related to defending Raif Badawi, who is serving a 10-year sentence for insulting the religion of Islam.

Amnesty International has condemned the arrest, saying on Tuesday that Samar Badawi's arrest was "further damning proof of the authorities' intent to suppress all signs of a peaceful dissent."

The group said further that Samar Badawi was arrested in the morning in Jeddah with her 2-year-old daughter, and was then interrogated by police for four hours. She was then sent to Dhaban prison, which is the same prison where her brother is currently being held.

Philip Luther, director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa program, said the arrest "demonstrates the extreme lengths to which the authorities are prepared to go in their relentless campaign to harass and intimidate human rights defenders into silent submission."

Calling for Raif Badawi's release

Watch video 01:16

Raif Badawi – still no prospect of a pardon

In addition to Raif Badawi's 10 year prison sentence, he was also subject to 1,000 lashes. His first set of 50 lashes came in January 2015, but was suspended on grounds of health concerns and amid a global outcry for his release.

People in Berlin continue to demand that he and others in the Saudi kingdom be released, emphasizing that at least two journalists and seven bloggers are currently behind bars.

smm/jm (dpa, AP, AFP)

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