People hold pictures of Samar Badawi (C) and her brother jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (R) as they demonstrate in support of Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, on May 7, 2015 in Paris. (AFP / Stephane De Sakutin)

Samar Badawi was not executed, but she is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia

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Rumours announcing the execution of human rights activist Samar Badawi in Saudi Arabia continue to resurface on social media, most recently in Spanish. Similar false posts made rounds in other languages in 2018. However, the activist has not been executed, although she is still incarcerated in Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Women’s right activist SAMAR BADAWI was publicly decapitated in Saudi,” according to this Facebook post which also while deplored the “complete silence by the media and international communities.”

The same claim was peddled in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. A single post in Italian accumulated 211,000 shares, while in Argentina, politician Luis D’Elia promoted the false news on Twitter to his thousands of followers in September 2018.

Samar Badawi has been imprisoned since July 2018, along with a dozen other human rights activists jailed in May 2018. The Saudi activist has not been executed, but remains in prison, as an Amnesty International Canada tweet from May 15, 2019, confirmed.

“No, Samar was not decapitated!” Anne Sainte-Marie, communications coordinator for Amnesty International in Canada, told AFP. “She’s still detained, like her brother Raid,” she added.

Raif Badawi, writer and blogger, was jailed in 2015, after he was condemned to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting” Islam.

Waleed Abulkhair, Samar’s ex-husband, lawyer, and human rights activist, has also been in jail since 2015 because of accusations of terrorism-related crimes.

“It’s very hard to be in contact with people detained in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty isn’t allowed to carry out investigations or missions on the ground,” Sainte-Marie told AFP. Regarding how Amnesty International Canada obtains information about Badawi, she said that Amnesty tries to gather news via Ensaf Haidar, who is married to Raif Badawi, and lives in Sherbrooke, in Quebec.

According to an Amnesty International press release from March 6, 2019, “at least 10 human rights defenders, including several of the women activists were tortured including by being sexually abused and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during the first three months of their detention last year. The activists were detained incommunicado during that period, with no access to their family or lawyers. Women human rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia last year include Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Shadan al-Anezi and Nouf Abdulaziz.”

On March 14, 2019, Amnesty published another press release in which it reiterated its calls for Samar Badawi’s release, as well as that of other human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

The following day, Human Rights Watch also referred to Samar Badawi as one of the dissidents that remain in Saudi jails y demanded for her immediate release.

More recently, on May 2, four women human rights activists were freed pending trial, though Badawi was not one of them.

Samar Badawi first gained international attention in 2010 for opposing her father and Saudi Arabia’s standing male guardianship law, which leaves a woman legally dependent on a man, no matter her age. She spent seven months in prison because of her stance on the issue.