(Saudi students attend a computer class at King Saud University in Riyadh October 30, 2002. The university is one of several major educational institutions turning out thousands of graduates every year in search of jobs. The government is stepping up efforts at "Saudization" in a country where a third of the workforce is foreign and unemployment among Saudis is running anywhere between eight to 12 percent. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

(Saudi students attend a computer class at King Saud University in
Riyadh October 30, 2002. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced the editor of an Internet forum he founded to discuss the role of religion in the conservative Islamic kingdom to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, Saudi media reported on Wednesday.

Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial.

Apart from imposing a stiffer sentence on Badawi in his retrial, the judge at the criminal court in the Red Sea City of Jeddah also fined him one million riyals ($266,600). Badawi’s website has been closed since his first trial.

His lawyers said Wednesday’s sentence was too harsh, although the prosecutor had demanded a harsher penalty, news website Sabq reported. The ruling is subject to appeal.