The S&D Group in the European Parliament expressed its full satisfaction at the award of the 2015 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia and urges the Saudi Arabia authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

Following today's decision of the Conference of Presidents in favour of Raif Badawi, S&D Euro MP Elena Valenciano, president of the subcommittee on human rights, said:

"Raif Badawi is a world symbol for freedom of speech. Today as Sakharov Laureate he speaks out loudly again for all those that are forced to stay silent by oppressive regimes all over the world.

"In his last blog post, Raif quoted Albert Camus saying: 'The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.' He did so and now he is paying it with prison and with inhuman punishment.
"It is our wish now that this Prize helps Raif and his family. We once again call on Saudi authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Raif so he can reunite with his loved ones."
"With this Prize the European Parliament upholds once again the respect of human rights as one of our most essential and valued commitments. We consequently call on the rest of the EU institutions and EU member states to strengthen the weight of human rights in our external relations and particularly in the case of Saudi Arabia."

S&D MEP Antonio Panzeri added:

"The award of the Sakharov Prize to Raif Badawi is an honour to all the people fighting for freedom of expression in the world. Everybody should have the right to their opinion and to receive and share information and ideas without interference from public authorities, regardless of frontiers."

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