Prince Charles has discussed the plight of jailed blogger Raif Badawi with Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman, following pressure from human rights organizations.
Badawi was sentenced to
10 years in prison and has received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes
for having set up a website for Saudi liberals.
Charles reportedly had lunch with the Arab monarch and hundreds
of guests at a palace in Riyadh on Tuesday.
A source said: “It is understood the issue was raised by the
prince during his meeting with King Salman,” referring to a
private meeting between the two.
“The reaction from the King was not unfriendly.”
Amnesty International welcomed reports that Charles raised the
issue of Badawi with King Salman.
Amnesty’s UK director, Kate Allen, said: “This is of course
very encouraging and very welcome news.
“We always said we weren’t expecting Prince Charles to give
up the red carpets and state banquets and become a human rights
campaigner, but we also hoped he’d use his unique position to
pass on a few well-chosen words to his royal hosts about human
rights in Saudi Arabia.
“From the various briefings from the Palace this week, we’re
cautiously hopeful that Prince Charles would raise Mr Badawi’s
“We still need the UK Government to do more on Raif’s case –
including specifically calling for him to be released – but
Charles’ diplomatic intercession could help secure this man’s
However, Prince Charles’s visit to the Gulf state was criticized
by Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the London-based Islamic Human
Rights Commission (IHRC), who said: “It seems highly
hypocritical of Prince Charles to be giving such a gesture of
support to the Saudi regime at a time when he claims to be
worried about the dangers of so called radicalization and British
“The prince should know that no country has been more pivotal
to the rise of extremism than Saudi Arabia and rubbing shoulders
with its leaders is only going to give them more encouragement to
continue business as normal.”
The oil-rich absolute monarchy has been accused of repeated human
“It is ironic then that the Prince is visiting the leaders of
a country that has one of the worst human rights records in the
region and has played a massive role in creating the kind of
extremism that so alarms him,” Shadjareh added, referring to
comments made by Prince Charles about the rise of extremism among
Prince Charles had traveled to the country to pay his respects
last month following the death of King Abdullah, aged 90, the
half-brother of the newly crowned King Salman.
The late monarch’s son Prince Miteb reportedly told Prince
Charles: “The whole family were very grateful. It meant a lot
when you came on the first day (after the funeral), it meant a
great deal to us.”