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Gay Former Saudi Diplomat Asylum Case Appealed

An update on the case of Ali Ahmed Asseri, the former Saudi diplomat who has been fighting to recieve political asylum in the United States since 2010

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.

6a00d8341c730253ef013487437db5970cIt 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.

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  1. This is a no-brainer. Regardless of what status this man has in the US, he cannot be sent back to Saudi Arabia.

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 29, 2014 3:24:03 PM

  2. He can go to Canada, Mexico, Argentina, or (gasp) Israel. I agree hw should be allowed to stay in the U.S., but any of these other options seems better than going home.

    Posted by: Gay Guy | Mar 29, 2014 3:43:50 PM

  3. our government has long been too cosy with saudi arabia.
    this does seem like a no brainer, so i have to wonder if refusing him asylum is to placate the saudi government.

    Posted by: woody | Mar 29, 2014 6:26:44 PM

  4. "This is a no-brainer. Regardless of what status this man has in the US, he cannot be sent back to Saudi Arabia."

    Why not? Obama is in Saudi Arabia right now, so everything must be going swimmingly for gays there. This is a man who boycotted three visits to Russia over gay rights.

    Posted by: cable | Mar 29, 2014 10:04:42 PM

  5. this country should even think of sending him back to saudi arabia . it would mean his death .

    Posted by: walter | Mar 29, 2014 10:46:09 PM

  6. He didn't get asylum because the Saudi's protested through back channels. This actually happens all the time in asylum cases. You might think it odd that the foreign govt. gets a veto, but the US doesn't want to step on any toes. The only real option for an asylum seeker is to go before a judge.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 30, 2014 12:27:04 PM

  7. It will be easier if he gets married, even a fake one.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 30, 2014 9:57:08 PM

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