The wife of the imprisoned Saudi journalist Raif Badawi is looking for a meeting with President Trump when she goes to Washington next week, after she has heard repeatedly that only Trump can win his release.
Ensaf Haidar's request comes two months after Trump announced that he would not punish Saudi Arab Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of another Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, last year.
But Haider, who lives in Canada with the couple's three children, said she remains hopeful, and her supporters argue that Trump has the chance to do something positive in the light of Khashoggi's murder.
"Although it is too late for Jamal Khashogghi, this brave citizen journalist can still be rescued – a phone call from the White House can free Raif," said Brandon Silver, policy director and project leaders at the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights.
Haidar visits Washington to meet lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Who have argued for her husband. In December, the US Senate unanimously approved a resolution condemning the crown prince for ordering Khashoggi's murder and also condemning Badawi's detention.
A source with knowledge of the visit told the Washington Examiner that several Senators and older Republicans have printed the White House at a meeting.
Another source said that Rubio's office helped to deliver a letter from Haidar to Ivanka Trump, the daughter and the president's adviser.
White House spokespersons did not say whether Haidar would likely meet with Trump during her three-day visit, which begins Monday and late Wednesday.
Badawi was arrested in 2012 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for "insulting Islam via electronic channels & # 39; and & # 39; transcend the field of obedience & # 39 ;. He had criticized powerful clergy as editor of news and commentary website Free Saudi Liberals.
"Brave voices fighting for democratic values in the Muslim world must be defended," Haidar told the Washington Examiner. "Raif is a Muslim and a staunch defender of the values of freedom and democracy, in a part of the world where supporting such things is a criminal offense."
Haidar said Badawi, whose lashes were suspended in 2015 after he got 50, did nothing wrong, but that efforts in other Western countries have failed to win his freedom.
"I have heard from many European and international officials that only the American President has the power to bring my hero back home," said Haidar.
In a direct appeal to Trump she said: "President Trump, Raif believes in a free and safe world where men and women can express their ideas without fear of repression, a world that needs freedom of speech, expression, thoughts and ideas. "You were elected president by the American people, you became the hope for many of those who are denied freedom and rights around the world." Raif Badawi, my husband, is one of them. "
In August, a diplomatic crisis broke out when the Canadian Foreign Ministry demanded the release of Badawi and his newly arrested sister. In what was widely interpreted as a warning from the crown prince to other possible critics of Saudi Arabia, the kingdom expelled the ambassador of Canada and ordered a major economic withdrawal from Canada.
The Saudi government is very sensitive to criticism of the case. A lawyer representing Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair, received 15 years in prison for crimes that included "opposing international organizations against the kingdom" and "instigating public opinion against authorities".
Haidar, who speaks Arabic and French, communicated with the Washington Examiner with the help of a friend. She is accompanied by Irwin Cotler, emeritus professor at McGill University and former Justice and Prosecutor General of Canada.
Trump said last year in the Oval Office that he was not aware of the Badawi case.
"If you say, leave the journalist free, who are you talking about?" Trump asked. When he was told that, he said: & # 39; That I should look at it. I am not familiar with that. & # 39;