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VIDEO: Rubio Reiterates Need For Human Rights To Be Priority In U.S.- Saudi Relationship

Apr 21, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – In a Senate floor speech today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) discussed a letter he sent earlier this week with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and James E. Risch (R-ID) to President Obama urging him to make human rights a top priority during his meetings in Saudi Arabia.

A transcript of Rubio’s full remarks is available below. A video is available here, and a broadcast quality video is available for download here.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Floor Speech
April 21, 2016

Senator Marco Rubio: “One last item I wanted to discuss today – and I think it is appropriate given where the President finds himself at this moment, in Saudi Arabia – is regarding a letter that I sent earlier this week along with Senators Durbin, and Risch, and Leahy, and Johnson to President Obama asking him to raise human rights issues during his meetings in Saudi Arabia.

“In particular, the case of Raif Badawi and his lawyer, Waleed Abu Al-Khair. Raif Badawi is a Saudi blogger. He was arrested in 2012 on the charge of insulting Islam and indicted on several charges including apostasy. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and one thousand lashes.

“In January of 2015, Raif received his first set of fifty lashes in public and this resulted in an international outcry. Raif’s subsequent lashes have been postponed. They’ve been postponed on health grounds. They’ve been postponed because just the first fifty lashes were so brutal that there were doubts whether he would survive fifty more. But he continues to serve his sentence in prison.

“Last week I met with Raif’s wife to discuss this case. Raif and his lawyer should be immediately and unconditionally released.

“While I deeply value and think it is a very important alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this alliance cannot allow our country to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses. And I hope that we will take up this cause.