Saudi prisoner Raif Badawi has urged Iranian revolutionaries to "not forget the prisoners of free speech such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Mohammed Ali Taheri and many others" after violent protests broke out in Iran.

At least 22 people have been killed in violent clashes with security forces since Thursday (28 December). The anti-government protests across Iran are the largest since the disputed presidential election in 2009.

President Hassan Rouhani vowed to crack down on "law breakers."

Badawi, who was jailed in Saudi Arabia for "insulting Islam" in 2012, congratulated "the brave revolutionaries" and called on them to remember the human rights activists imprisoned in Iran in a tweet sent on New Year's Day.

"My husband #RaifBadawi sends his honest greeting from prison to the brave revolutionaries in Iran, and he reminds them not to forget the prisoners of free speech such as Nazanin Zaghari, Mohammad Ali Taheri and many others. #IranProtest," a message on the jailed blogger's Twitter page read.

British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in a prison in Tehran since April 2016. She was sentenced to five years after a court accused her of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda described her as a "dirty spy."

In December, her husband Richard Ratcliffe revealed that she has been marked "eligible for release", describing the new status as a "really good sign."

Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2012 after he criticised Saudi Arabia's religious police on his blog Liberal Saudi Network.

His wife, Ensaf Haidar, said in December that the jailed blogger has been placed on a list of people eligible for a royal pardon.

Haidar previously told IBTimes UK about her family's torment since Badawi's arrest.

"You can imagine our suffering. We feel every hour, every day, every week like a month," she said at a London vigil for Badawi in May.

She said that her husband was suffering from hypertension and severe kidney pain in prison and that his mental health has significantly deteriorated since he was flogged in front of a mosque in Jeddah in 2015.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most tightly controlled media environments in the world. It is ranked 168th of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, having fallen three places in the last year. Iran was ranked 165th last year, having moved up four places since 2016.

Raif Badawi Saudi Editor lashes
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has called on Iranian free speech revolutionaries to remember imprisoned activists, such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.