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Gay Saudi Diplomat Seeks Asylum

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2010

Ali Ahmad Asseri, the first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, has told NBC News that he has asked for political asylum in the United States. He has reportedly informed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Saudi officials have refused to renew his diplomatic passport after discovering that he was gay and close friends with a Jewish woman. He was questioned by a DHS official on August 30 after formally applying for asylum. DHS and Saudi officials decline to comment.

Without a diplomatic passport, Asseri has been effectively fired from his job and has no legal means of remaining in the U.S. In an email to NBC news, Asseri said, “My life is in a great danger here and if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight.”

Saudi Arabia follows Sharia law, which calls for the death penalty and/or lashings for homosexuality.

Comments

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Timothy Kincaid
September 12th, 2010 | LINK

This is a tough one.

Generally the US can be pretty decent about allowing gay people asylum if they are truly in danger (depending, of course, on what judge you get).

But being a diplomat complicates things.

Saudi Arabia is one of our closest allies in the Middle East and I can’t see the State Department allowing anything which would upset the delicate balance of our relationship.

I have no idea what will happen. I guess that depends on how insistent the Saudi family (several of whom more of less live in the US) are about his return. Unfortunately, he exacerbated things by insulting some princes.

Tim
September 12th, 2010 | LINK

He should be given the chance to live in a third country, for instance here in the UK where there is already a large Saudi and Middle Eastern community, or somewhere else of his own choice.

Being gay and insulting minor royals should not be a capital crime.

I hope it works out for him.

Emily K
September 12th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with Tim. insulting royalty and being gay are not things worthy of the death penalty. I hope he is given the chance to seek asylum in a third country.

Granted, I know I don’t know the whole story. But if those two things are what will put his life in danger, those two things are what I’m judging my opinion by.

Adrian-T
September 12th, 2010 | LINK

If it were a just world ther would be no Saudi anything. It’s terrible that our close allies pour billions into spreading that murderously warped Wahhabi version of Islam around the world. The Saudi regime has filled madrassas, schools and mosques with hate preachers and literature; trained, armed and turned a blind eye to fanatics and terrorists in the middle east, kashmir, afghanistan and the former soviet muslim countries. Ultimately Britain takes the blame for setting this horrible little state up in the first place. (worth reading: Secret Affiars by Mark Curtis)

This poor diplomat’s chances are poor; the last thing the West wants is human rights aND democracy in any oilm rich country.

Other Fred in the UK
September 12th, 2010 | LINK

I doubt that Her Majesty’s Government would be any keener on annoying the Saudis than the U.S. That said somewhere small and unimportant (from the Saudi perspective) might be leant on to take him.

The cynic in me wonders whether he insulted the Princes precisely so that his claim for asylum was not entirely based on his sexual orientation.

Tommy
September 13th, 2010 | LINK

Other Fred,

That’s my take on it. Bush stacked the immigration courts with judges that would reject asylum claims of gay people for just about any reason, including fearing for their lives.

And yes, the Saudi ruling class are our enemies. They’ve been the main source of financing for global terrorism since at least the 80′s. Not to mention having one of the worst human rights records in modern history. Something every other government conveniently forgets.

If he isn’t given asylum here, hopefully someplace like Luxembourg will grant it.

Seraphiel
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Well, there’s not really any such thing as royalty. Nobody’s accident of birth makes them better than someone else, or warrants a greater punishment if they’re insulted. These notions of princes and kings need to be left in the dark ages.

Saudi Arabia is a land ruled by toxic anachronisms; nobody should be forced to go there, least of all someone who has a good chance of being murdered to satisfy some theocrat’s politically-motivated bloodlust.

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