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, Sabq reported. The ruling is subject to appeal.
The prosecution had demanded that Badawi be tried for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. The judge in last year’s trial had dismissed the apostasy charges.
Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cyber crime and disobeying his father – a crime in Saudi Arabia.
His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, according to Human Rights Watch.
Rattled by the uprisings that destabilized the Middle East in recent years, Riyadh intensified a crackdown on domestic dissent with arrests and prosecutions.