Hassan Ammar, Associated Press
In this photo made with a slow shutter speed, the sun rises over palm trees in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is criticizing Saudi Arabia for extending the prison sentence of a human rights attorney for "exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association."

Walid Abu al-Khair has defended individuals including a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes.

Al-Khair is the founder of the group Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. He received a 10-year sentence last year.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Tuesday cited "troubling" reports the sentence was extended to 15 years.

She says the U.S. will raise al-Khair's case with the Saudis.

The blogger was convicted of insulting Islam after criticizing powerful clerics. He was flogged 50 times before spectators last week and for 19 more weeks. He must serve 10 years in prison and pay a fine of more than $250,000.