Gay Former Saudi Diplomat Asylum Case Appealed
Asseri, who is currently living in Los Angeles, says returning to his home country would mean death. He claims that his one-time fellow Saudi consulate employees in LA followed him and, upon learning he was gay, began to harass him. They insisted he return to Saudi Arabia. Currently making a living as a part-time security guard, he sleeps on friends' couches.
CNN reports on the status of his petition for asylum, which was initially denied by the Department of Homeland Security. It has since been appealed.
It wasn't until this past February that Asseri was finally granted a hearing date for his appeal. At the court, the immigration officer offered him a deal to remain in the country permanently without possibility of asylum or a green card.
Additionally, he could never leave the country. When he rejected the offer, the immigration officer applied for another continuance, saying she needed to submit more documents in the two-year case. He is now looking at a new hearing date in 2015.
Today, Asseri barely makes ends meet as a part-time security guard. He lives on couches at friends' apartments in West Hollywood. His family has shunned him and his ex-wife won't allow him to talk to his son.
As unbearable as his life in limbo is, he says returning to Saudi Arabia would be a death sentence.
"There is no question," he says. "If you go back and say I am gay and proud and I don't believe in religion anymore. Under sharia law this is death. You will be happy if they kill you right away. "
Asseri says some of the blame about his current situation should be placed on politics.
Asseri had been convinced that Obama's stated commitment to gay rights would trump politics and keep him safe in the United States.
"When President Obama ran in 2008 I supported him. I cried for him, I encouraged my American friends to vote for him. Now I can't stand to watch him on TV," he says. "I'm angry. He said he supports the rights of gay people, so why is this happening to me?"
The Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles did not return phone calls. The Department of Homeland Security declined comment, saying asylum cases were confidential.