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.

Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:13pm ETC by Steve Pep
in Saudi Arabia