Saudi Arabia

Gay Saudi Diplomat Seeks Asylum In The United States

NBC News reports on a story about a gay Saudi diplomat living in Los Angeles who is asking the Department of Homeland Security for political asylum in the United States. Ali Ahmad Asseri, who works in the Saudi Consulate in LA, says Saudi officials want him sent back to his home country, where he could face political persecution or death. Asseri, who apparently has also threatened to release "politically embarrassing information about members of the Saudi royal family living in luxury in the U.S.," says that if he returns to Saudi Arabia, he will be killed "openly in broad daylight.”

  NBC News reports:

FlagThe Saudis have also been sharply condemned by the U.S. State Department and human rights groups for religious and political intolerance, including the treatment of gay people. The most recent State Department human rights report on Saudi Arabia notes that, in addition to denying political and religious rights to minorities, “under Sharia (Islamic law) sexual activity between two persons of the same gender is punishable by death or flogging.” While the report stated there was no “official discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation in employment and housing, “sexual orientation could constitute the basis for harassment, blackmail, or other actions.” It noted that in one case reported in a Saudi newspaper three years ago, two men in the Saudi city of Al-Bahah were publicly lashed 7,000 times after being found guilty of sodomy.

Asseri says that his co-workers went out of their way to find out about his homosexuality:

Asseri, in a recent telephone interview, said that has been assigned to the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles for the past five years. His problems began some months ago, he said, when Saudi consulate employees who suspected he was gay began following him to gay bars. They also discovered his close friendship with a Jewish woman from Israel. It was some time after these discoveries, Asseri said, that consulate officials began harassing him, refusing to renew his diplomatic passport or provide him with badly needed medical treatment for a painful back ailment. They also continued to monitor his private life and have demanded that he return to Saudi Arabia.

Asseri officially applied for asylum as a member of a “particular social group" and met with a representative from Homeland Security last month and if it is granted, he would be the first diplomat to receive it in over 15 years.

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Comments

  1. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Obama declines to help him.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 12, 2010 1:39:58 PM


  2. The government HAS to help him, or their statements about being gay friendly will be worth NOTHING.... if they do not have the courage of their convictions to help someone that needs it, even if it makes future dealings with that government more difficult, they will be as morally bankrupt as the Republicans that have persecuted, used and maligned gay people here at home in their quest for power.

    Posted by: CKNJ | Sep 12, 2010 1:52:23 PM


  3. Good luck to him wherever he finds refuge. Maybe he should have asked for asylum in Canada. We're not beholden to the Saudi's for oil like the US, and we have liberal and compassionate immigration policies. Hey we welcomed your draft dodgers didn't we? I can see though how someone from Saudi Arabia would hesitate to live in a land where parts of it plunge to -50 in winter.

    Posted by: Tone | Sep 12, 2010 2:12:36 PM


  4. The religion of peace strikes again.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 12, 2010 2:14:38 PM


  5. I don't see him gaining asylum in the USA. Perhaps he should go underground and just stay here illegally. I would venture a guess, without stereotyping, that a Saudi diplomat would have some money and would be able to do that.

    Posted by: Tracy | Sep 12, 2010 2:29:06 PM


  6. that's really helpful.t hanks

    Posted by: DAVID EHRENSTEIN | Sep 12, 2010 2:35:55 PM


  7. that's really helpful.t hanks

    Posted by: DAVID EHRENSTEIN | Sep 12, 2010 2:36:57 PM


  8. @David, don't forget that it's Clinton who runs the state department. Since she has been championed as such an advocate lately (though I'm not sure why) this could be her first real test.

    I'm not sure how this will turn out though, since it's so complicated. It's just a sad reminder that Saudi Arabia are our partners in peace.

    Posted by: Joe | Sep 12, 2010 2:52:46 PM


  9. Mostly all of your comments are wrong. Neither Clinton nor Obama will be directly involved in this case. The people who would have the ultimate authority would be either the members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is part of the Dept, of Justice, or else the Secretary of Homeland Security, who also almost never gets directly involved in an individual asylum claim.
    From the facts, it does sound like the man has a good asylum claim, as sexual orientation can serve as the basis for a claim of persecution on account of being a "member of a particular social group".
    By the way, US authorities are quite generous with granting asylum so long as the applicant can provide at least some solid evidence of the persecution and does lie about any material facts when testifying.

    Posted by: Hunter | Sep 12, 2010 3:06:31 PM


  10. last sentence should (obviously) be: "doe NOT lie when testifying"

    Posted by: Hunter | Sep 12, 2010 3:07:53 PM


  11. Question for the moral equivalency adherents:

    If Christianity is "just as bad" as Islam, then why does a gay Saudi seek asylum in a Christian-majority, tea-party nation like the U.S. instead of some Islamic civil rights utopia?

    Posted by: Max | Sep 12, 2010 3:21:48 PM


  12. Who's posting under my name?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 12, 2010 3:23:51 PM



  13. And yet the lunatic Left still focuses its hate on Israel, where gay Muslims are free to live openly.

    Posted by: GrabbyNewscum | Sep 12, 2010 3:33:54 PM


  14. I testified in an asylum case two weeks ago for a gay man from Lithuania and it was granted. I should think it would be MUCH easier to make the case for someone from Saudi Arabia.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Sep 12, 2010 3:43:23 PM


  15. Who is this Grabby queer is he a right wing faggot???

    Posted by: HILLBILLY TENN | Sep 12, 2010 3:58:47 PM


  16. I feel very sorry for the man, and I would like to think that he will be granted his asylum.

    Working against him is the potential for a high degree of political ramifications w.r.t. Saudi oil.

    However, it's just possible that he could be enough of a worldwide political embarrassemnt that the Saudi's may not push.

    Posted by: JAMES in Toronto | Sep 12, 2010 4:07:55 PM


  17. >Who is this Grabby queer is he a right >wing faggot???
    >Posted by: HILLBILLY TENN |


    Are you a po azz nigga?

    Posted by: GrabbyNewscum | Sep 12, 2010 4:23:10 PM


  18. I don't mean to be rude, but there are a lot of Iranian women who I know personally that have tried to stay in the US under the standards that they are forced into loveless marriages, have their children taken, etc. and their asses don't get to stay--moreover, if they try to get married while here they are investigated.

    How do we know he is really gay? Shouldn't his ass be going back to Saudi to try to change that lovely, friendly, country that allows so much social and religious diversity that we have given them favored nation status? Oh wait. They aren't that friendly.

    He could pretend to love his wife like countless young women do with their old ugly husbands. Does every third or fourth wife want to be married there?

    Sorry...I'm so disgusted with countries like this and the fact that the men in these countries are all for destroying women but will jump ship with their own asses in a heartbeat.

    If he gets to stay (and I hope he does) then I would love for all women in Islamic countries who want sanctuary so they have the freedom to divorce, marry, etc who they will to have sanctuary here AND I would like it if we weren't best fucking friends forever with these medieval shitholes.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 12, 2010 5:02:32 PM


  19. Hey Grabby-- Just for the record, I'm part of that "lunatic left" that you hate so much, and I ALWAYS condemn the Muslim world for their treatment of women and gays, especially when talking with other leftist friends.

    Believe me, there are plenty of queers and feminists on the left who have NO love for shariah law.

    Posted by: DH | Sep 12, 2010 5:18:10 PM


  20. For years, the USCIS asylum offices and the immigration courts have granted asylum to gay men from all over the world. The process itself is confidential, so we rarely read about them. Most never get to the Board of Immigration Appeals or the Federal Courts, because they are resolved at a lower level of adjudication. While asylum is not an automatic in every case even for gay men from countries where anti-gay persecution is well known (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jamaica, to name a few of the worst and best known state persecutors of gay men), with proper preparation by competent, experienced legal representation the chances that a strong claim will be denied is fairly limited unless there is a technical bar (like filing past the one-year deadline without an applicable exception). I have represented hundreds of LGBT asylum seekers from ~ 50 countries since Attorney Janet Reno made this possible 16 years ago by establishing that gay men constituted a "particular social group." From my experience, there is every reason to expect that the asylum office will grant this case if he the facts are as reported. For the Anaheim Asylum Office that would be fairly unremarkable outcome, based on these facts. The only thing unique about this case is that he is a diplomat. Still, one wonders why we are even reading about it, since most asylum seekers cherish the confidentiality of the process and would not want to endanger (for example, in the case of Saudi Arabia) the standing of their family members back home with publicity that may be viewed as adverse to their interests. It is fairly rare for any asylum applicant to publicize their case. This applicant may be so afraid of the consequences of losing that he decided it was safer to go public than to remain silent. (Maybe the members of the Saudi government he fears have already spilled the beans back home.) Although the decision here is the domain of an executive branch agency, it is almost impossible to imagine the administration intervening and denying asylum to an applicant who has proven well-founded fear of persecution and is not otherwise barred from asylum. This is particularly true in the administrative USCIS Asylum Office where decisions are not discretionary if the applicant is credible and has met his burden of proof after a non-adversarial interview. The way the story is reported it almost seems as though we are talking about a cold war defection in a US Embassy abroad.

    Posted by: Lavi Soloway | Sep 12, 2010 5:20:12 PM


  21. i'd like to hear what he knows about the saudi royal family and others in power there. you BET they want him back, he probably LITERALLY knows where the bodies are buried.

    Posted by: jack | Sep 12, 2010 5:22:01 PM


  22. And there are tons vagina owners and closet cases on the right who love it.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 12, 2010 5:22:05 PM


  23. Tons of vagina owners and closet cases on the right? Who love what? Shariah? Name a western woman in her right fucking mind that wants to be equal to half a man in a judicial case, or to be the property of a man, or to have her kids ripped from her, or her body beat because she looked in the wrong direction...or ... or...


    GAR! You're insane.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 12, 2010 5:34:32 PM


  24. DH, if you "ALWAYS condemn the Muslim world for their treatment of women and gays" (and Jews, Christians, Animists, Ba'Hai, Buddhists, and Hindus?), then you're not a "lunatic." Left-wing maybe (I don't know), but there are a minority of liberals who get it.

    Posted by: Max | Sep 12, 2010 8:50:59 PM


  25. Tone:

    Give it a fuckin rest buddy...Canada is not more 'compassionate' or even 'liberal' than American society or American immigration policies. U.S. immigration policies are exceptionally compassionate which is why fucking MILLIONS live here illegally and even manage to collect social services like legal citizens. They can even give birth as illegal immigrants on American soil and their baby is an American citizen. A liberal Canadian government stopped that so-called 'right' a while back.

    And I know Canada very well so don't whine I'm an ignorant American.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 12, 2010 9:43:17 PM


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