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Canada Quebec legislature votes to support jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

Ensaf Haider, right, wife of Raif Badawi, walks with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, left, to his office, after the legislature voted unanimously in favour of a motion to free her husband from a Saudi Arabia jail, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at the legislature in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was present at Quebec's legislature Wednesday as members voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling for his immediate release.

Ensaf Haidar also met briefly with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and he reiterated his promise to help get her husband back.

Haidar and her three children have been living as refugees in Sherbrooke, Que., since fleeing Saudi Arabia following her husband's 2012 arrest.

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Saudi authorities sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison, gave him a $300,000 fine, and condemned him to suffer 1,000 lashes for writing blog posts critical of Saudi clerics.

Badawi is not a Canadian citizen, which limits Canada and Quebec's influence in his case.

"It's clear that we can't just go there and bring him back," Couillard told reporters during a joint press conference with Haidar in Quebec City. "We have to be conscious of that reality, but the more the democratic world shows its indignation, the more chances we have to get there."

Haidar thanked the Quebec government and the legislature for their support.

Couillard knows Saudi Arabia well, having worked there as a doctor between 1992 and 1996.

He warned, however, that the country's ruling structure is "rather complicated" and that his former ties to the regime wouldn't necessarily help release Badawi.

International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre said Badawi's conviction is "cruel and inhuman."

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"Words cannot express our profound indignation at the conviction of this young man which is such a flagrant violation of his human dignity and his freedom of expression," she said.

The unanimous motion will be sent to Canada's Parliament, the department of foreign affairs and Saudi Arabia's embassy in Ottawa.

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