Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to land in London on Sunday to pay his respects to the Queen has been condemned by Hatice Cengiz and other human rights campaigners as a ‘stain’ on the monarch’s memory and an attempt by the Saudi Crown Prince to using mourning to ‘seek legitimacy and normalization’.

Cengiz, who was engaged to Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents at the Istanbul consulate in 2018, said she wants Prince Mohammed arrested for murder when he lands in London , but said she feared UK authorities would turn a blind eye to serious and credible allegations against the future king.

A source told the Guardian that Prince Mohammed will travel to the UK to offer his kingdom’s condolences to the royal family, although there has been no confirmation or information as to whether he will attend the funeral at Westminster Abbey. CNN Arabic first reported the news on Thursday evening.

A declassified US intelligence report published in 2021 revealed that the operation to kill or kidnap Khashoggi had been approved by Prince Mohammed. The report said his assessment was based on the Crown Prince’s “control of decision-making”, “the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of the [the prince’s] protective detail,” and his “support for the use of violent measures” to silence dissent. The crown prince denied having been personally involved in the planning of the murder.

“The Queen’s passing is a truly sad occasion,” Cengiz said. “The Crown Prince should not be allowed to be part of this mourning and not be allowed to stain his memory and use this time of mourning to seek legitimacy and normalization.”

News that the heir to the Saudi throne would be making his first trip to London since 2018 has been dismayed by some Saudis in exile, including Abdullah Alaoudh, a Washington-based Saudi dissident who is the research director of nonprofit Dawn. lucrative. founded by Khashoggi which promotes democracy in the Middle East.

Alaoudh said Prince Mohammed’s trip came as Saudi Arabia cracked down “increasingly harshly” on human rights defenders in his country, including the recent arrest of Salma al-Shehab, a 34-year-old doctoral student. years at Leeds University who was arrested on a return trip to the kingdom and sentenced to 34 years in prison for using Twitter.

“He is emboldened to travel the world after the Khashoggi affair following the dedicated rehabilitation process – whether they call it that or not – of Western leaders,” Alaoudh said, referring to visits to the kingdom of Boris Johnson and Joe Biden. .

Former UK Ambassador to Riyadh, Sir John Jenkins, said of the Saudi leadership: “I think they like Charles. First, he visited – and moved.

“His mother had also come… and although she was highly respected, it all seemed a little distant. Charles was not far away. He regularly visits the Gulf, receives princes privately and officially in London. And he paid attention. Moreover, he had made an effort to learn some Arabic. And his early 1990s speech at the Islamic Center in Oxford, as well as subsequent speeches, have been admired and remembered.

In its report, CNN Arabic said Prince Mohammed would not attend the funeral. Alaoudh, whose father is a reformist cleric facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, said he believed the decision likely reflected the crown prince’s fragile ego.

“He would sit behind other powerful figures,” Alaoudh said. “But MBS wants full recognition of his power, of his existence, of being in the front row. He cares a lot about these symbols and doesn’t want to be humiliated.

Another campaigner, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, UK director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “Authoritarian dictators should not use the Queen’s death as an opportunity to try to rehabilitate their image. as they step up repressive campaigns in their country. countries.”

Protests are already planned against Prince Mohammed’s visit, as well as visits by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain and leaders of the United Arab Emirates. Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, from the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “The UK simply should not welcome dictators from states notorious for their abysmal human rights records.

“Although the leaders of Russia and Syria have rightly not received invitations to attend the Queen’s funeral, it sends a clear double standard to welcome notorious Gulf despots such as King Hamad afterwards. and Mohammed bin Salman, who continue to preside over appalling violations against those who dare to speak out in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, who investigated Khashoggi’s murder and whose life was allegedly threatened by a senior Saudi official, said Prince Mohammed’s plan to pay tribute to her was reminiscent of the murder of the journalist from the Washington Post, whose own family had been “denied the right to bury Jamal with the dignity he deserved.” Saudi Arabia has denied intending to threaten Callamard.

The crown prince’s visit follows years of reports since Khashoggi’s murder that critics of the kingdom who live abroad have been monitored and threatened by Saudi authorities, including in the UK.

A British judge ruled last month that a case against the kingdom brought by a dissident satirist targeted by spyware could proceed, in a decision that was hailed as setting a precedent.