The editor of a Saudi Arabian website could be sentenced to death after a judge cited him for apostasy and moved his case to a higher court, the monitoring group Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

Raif Badawi, who started the Free Saudi Liberals website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in June, Human Rights Watch said.

Badawi had initially been charged with the less serious offence of insulting Islam through electronic channels, but at a December 17 hearing a judge referred him to a more senior court and recommended he be tried for apostasy, the monitoring group said.

Apostasy, the act of changing religious affiliation, carries an automatic death sentence in Saudi Arabia, along with crimes including blasphemy.

Badawi’s website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures, the monitoring…

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