Lashed Saudi blogger Raif: Prince Charles has word with new king

Dad convicted over Facebook posts faces another 50 lashes on Friday

The UK's Prince Charles has raised the issue of the fate of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi with Saudi Arabia's newly appointed King Salman during a six-day state visit to the region.

Badawi was found guilty in 2013 of insulting Islam in Facebook posts and of running an online activist message board called Liberal Saudi Network that was deemed to have "harmed the reputation of the state," among other offenses. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, a massive fine, and 1,000 lashes with a long bamboo cane.

The first fifty lashes, delivered in public outside al-Jafali mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, were administered last month, with another 50 due each week. But following his first flogging, Badawi was judged medically unfit for further punishment, at least for the time being.

The Badawi case has attracted international attention, with governments expressing their displeasure at the sentence – particularly since it comes so soon after the Charlie Hebdo mass-murder atrocity. But the Saudi absolute monarchy has shown no sign of moving on the issue.

Sir William Patey, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told the BBC that Charles gets on well with the Saudi royal family and could raise the subject in a way that wouldn't cause offence.

"This can only help – maybe it will help that Charles is a fellow royal," Paul Fidalgo, communications director for the non-profit Center for Inquiry, which has been working to free Badawi since 2012, told The Register.

"We were disappointed that Obama hedged away from making a statement about Badawi when he visited the Saudis. We don’t know what was said behind closed doors but we think he made no real push on the matter."

Badawi is due to be examined by prison doctors on Friday and, if judged fit enough, will receive another 50 lashes. ®


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