*If it wants to.
Free Raif Badawi. Free Waleed Abulkhair. Free Ashraf Fayadh.
That’s what freedom of expression charity English PEN wants the UK Government to tell Saudi Arabia.
All three men are political prisoners and PEN campaigns globally for the freedom to read, write and speak.
Outspoken poet Ashraf Fayadh faces execution for alleged apostasy.
Blogger Raif Badawi faces ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for religious and political posts, a punishment so violent his wife says it will kill him.
Raif’s lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair faces 15 years in prison for peaceful protest.
English PEN says the UK’s strong trade relations can help secure the release of these three political prisoners.
But the British Government is keeping quiet. It’s yet to voice official support for either Raif, Waleed or Ashraf.
This is why artists, writers and poets, including Carol Ann Duffy have written their own letter to the Saudi Arabian Embassy. It reminds the country of it’s position on the UN Human Right’s Council, demanding Ashraf Fayadh’s immediate release.
But, an awkward question remains: has the British Government itself been silenced by Saudi Arabia?