The Verdict Against Badawi is Upheld–What Comes Next?

Raif Badawi remains in prison. Raif Badawi still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Raif Badawi remains in danger. Saudi Arabia’s thought-police know that the slow drip-drip-drip of news about a prisoner’s legal status is one more form of punishment.

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Raif Badawi learned today, March 20, that both the verdict against him and the one million riyal (approx. $266,663) fine leveled against him have been upheld by Saudi Arabia’s judicial system.

The immediate impact of these decisions is not known. There are many questions, not the least of which is: what effect might today’s decision have on the other two other parts of Raif Badawi’s sentence—ten years in prison and 1000 lashes with a whip? The answer is yet to be revealed.

Later this spring, Badawi will pass the five-year mark in prison. (Today, March 20, 2017, is Raif Badawi’s 1760th day in prison.) On January 9, 2015, fifty lashes were administered with a cane, and 950 more remain undelivered to this day. Will the whipping be resumed? Or, optimistically, if the fine can be paid in full, might that be a way for humanity to pry Raif Badawi from the inhumane Saudi Arabian judicial system, in which the act of thinking is considered a crime worthy of corporal punishment?
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ICE Arrests Green Card Holder; Community Responds

UPDATED, April 29: When a GoFundMe page was established to help the family of Joel and Jessica Guerrero of New Paltz, New York, some 400 people donated $16,165 to the family of Joel and Jessica Guerrero within days. The community grew from immediate neighbors and family to the rest of the nation and beyond borders. When we remember that we are all cousins, the world shrinks in happy ways.

The fundraiser was closed at the start of April, but Joel remains in federal custody, detained by ICE. A petition on to free Joel has attracted almost 1000 signatures and many more are needed: “Please Stand With Joel & Jessica Guerrero.”

My column from March 5, 2017, with some corrections (thank you, Jessica Guerrero):
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Breaking a Family Apart

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK: Joel Guerrero, a New Paltz, New York, resident arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at his biannual check-in with ICE on March 1, is being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearney, New Jersey.

ICE arrested Guerrero at his appointment on the grounds that Joel had once missed a court date—in 2011. He was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana at that time. Because of that conviction, under the rules for immigrants, Guerrero was mandated to check in with ICE two times a year, which is a rule he complied with. Guerrero legally immigrated from the Dominican Republic two decades ago and has his green card. He has kept his papers up-to-date.

Guerrero has attended every court date since that missed one, but ICE yesterday put a deportation order in effect for the single court appearance that he missed five years ago, nonetheless.

He was accompanied on his regularly scheduled appointment in New York City with ICE by his wife Jessica, a U.S. citizen and New Paltz native who is six months pregnant with their first child.
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‘You are breaking a family apart’

The following article has been updated: “Breaking a Family Apart.”


NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK: Joel Guerrero, a green card holder and New Paltz resident, was arrested at his biannual check-in appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 1 in New York City.

He was accompanied by his wife Jessica, a U.S. citizen who is six months pregnant with their first child.

ICE arrested Guerrero at his appointment on the grounds that Joel had once missed a court date—in 2009. Guerrero has attended every court date since that missed one, but nonetheless ICE this week put a deportation order in effect for the single court appearance that he missed seven years ago.
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Shawkan Is Spared a New Sentence

A journalist’s job is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Mahmoud Abu Zeid, an Egyptian photojournalist who goes by the name “Shawkan,” learned today that his next hearing will be on Tuesday, March 21. And then chaos broke out in the courtroom.

The hearings in the trial of the more than 700 individuals detained in the aftermath of the government’s violent break-up of the Rabaa sit-in protest have unfolded in a logistically trying fashion. After the court’s judges announced the latest postponement, most of the defendants started to chant in unison that the court was unfair, that the session was invalid.

The panel of judges immediately found 700 of the defendants (almost the entire group) guilty of “insulting the judicial system,” and it sentenced each defendant to one year in jail with forced labor added. Shawkan was one of a mere twenty defendants who was not given the new, additional one-year sentence.
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A Summons for Samar Badawi: Updated 2/15

Earlier today, Saudi Arabian human rights activist Samar Badawi was questioned by authorities with that nation’s Bureau of Investigation and was allowed to leave after the interview.

On her Twitter page, she reported that the Bureau wanted to ask her about her human rights activities:

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A Summons for Samar Badawi

Saudi Arabia’s Bureau of Investigation yesterday contacted Samar Badawi (above), the wife of Waleed Abulkhair and sister of Raif Badawi, and asked her to report to the Bureau at 10:00 a.m. February 15. She reports that no reason for the summons has been given.

On January 12, 2016, she was arrested and released on bail one day later. She was charged with operating her husband Waleed’s Twitter account.

Samar Badawi is the sister of Raif Badawi, the human rights writer who was convicted of apostasy and other charges and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes with a cane. Waleed is Raif Badawi’s lawyer as well as his brother-in-law, and he is in prison for his human rights advocacy as well.

Because no reason for the summons has been offered, Samar of course can not prepare for the questioning. This is a common form of judicial harassment in nations that use a judiciary as a tool to intimidate.

I will post an update when information becomes available tomorrow. This is Samar Badawi’s Tweet about the summons:
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Putting Help on I.C.E.

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed on February 10 that ICE agents this week raided homes and workplaces across the nation in an immigration enforcement crackdown code-named “Operation Cross Check.”

The Washington Post reported that the search for undocumented immigrants became “unusually intense” this week and listed the locations as: Vista, Pomona and Compton, California; Austin, Dallas, and Pflugerville, Texas; Alexandria and Annandale, Virginia; Charlotte and Burlington, North Carolina; Plant City, Florida; the Hudson Valley region of New York; and Wichita, Kansas.

(I live in the Hudson Valley. The local media has not yet identified the location of any ICE raids that took place in the Hudson Valley.)

ICE does not usually release statements about its activities before a mission is completed, but many rumors proliferated about Operation Cross Check, so an ICE official, Virginia Kice, reported that any numbers of arrested individuals that the bureau might announce are “preliminary given that the five-day operation concluded only hours ago”—which confirmed that the raids were taking place and that the operation was finished—and that more would be revealed on Monday.

Kice told The Daily Beast that thirty-eight were arrested in the Los Angeles area on February 9 alone, and multiple sources report that as many as 160 individuals (one source old me the number is “200+”) were arrested in the operation. Also detained by ICE and its affiliates this week was any ability to get help to those being held, as several human rights activists have learned.

Here is that story:
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