Australian free after Saudi lashing
Melbourne - An Australian man has been released from a Saudi prison after his jail term for blasphemy was commuted and his punishment reduced to 75 lashes, his family and the government said on Thursday.
Mansor Almaribe, 45, was detained in the city of Medina on November 14 while making the hajj pilgrimage and accused of insulting companions of the Prophet Mohammed.
The father-of-five was sentenced to 500 lashes and 12 months in jail. But Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd's office said he had been granted a pardon from his prison sentence, and was on his way home.
"His corporal punishment was also greatly reduced and administered in a way that did not cause physical harm," a spokesperson for Rudd said.
Some reports suggested that Almaribe, from Shepparton in Victoria state, was allowed to wear a coat while he was being whipped.
Rudd's office said they appealed for leniency to senior Saudi officials and members of the royal family.
Melbourne newspapers said Almaribe's sentence was reduced to 75 lashes and quoted his son Isaam as saying "my dad is very tired but he can make it to Melbourne".
"We're all sad about the lashes but we're still happy that my dad is finally (coming) back," he added.
His family had earlier said Almaribe suffered from diabetes and heart disease and they had grave fears for his health.