An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in jail by a court in Saudi Arabia after being found guilty of blasphemy, Canberra said on Wednesday.
Reports said 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.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said he was sentenced on Tuesday and Canberra's ambassador in Saudi Arabia had been in touch with authorities to plead for leniency.
"The Australian ambassador has been in touch with Saudi authorities after a 45-year-old Australian man was sentenced by a court in Saudi Arabia to one year in jail and 500 lashes," a DFAT spokeswoman said.
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A consular official attended the sentencing, where the Shiite Muslim was initially slapped with a two-year jail term that was subsequently reduced, the spokeswoman added.
The Melbourne Age has previously said the father-of-five from Shepparton in Victoria state, who could not afford a lawyer, suffers from diabetes and heart disease, with grave fears for his health.
His eldest son, Jamal, told the newspaper this week that his father had been reading and praying in a group when accosted by religious police and arrested.
Another son, Mohammed, said Wednesday his father would not survive 500 lashes, given his health issues.
"Five hundred lashes on his back, and he has back problems. I wouldn't think he'd survive 50," he told ABC radio.