A former Saudi diplomat who escaped to Doha in 2011 after being held in his home country for years has now made his way to Morocco, Amnesty International reports.
Mishal al-Mutairy sought asylum here after he said he was imprisoned, tortured and kept under house arrest for five years in Saudi Arabia.
His relationship with the kingdom soured when, while serving at the Saudi diplomatic mission at the Hague in 2003, he made public claims that it was helping to fund terrorism.
Though he won asylum in the Netherlands in 2004, he said Saudi agents forced him back to the kingdom at gunpoint in 2006. He and his family eventually managed to escape to Qatar in 2011, and recently left with the help of the National Human Rights Committee here, Amnesty reports.
But during his stay here, he told Doha News that he was ordered to leave Qatar repeatedly, with Ministry of Interior (MOI) officials threatening to deport him and his family back to Saudi Arabia.
“I escaped 11 August, 2011 [and] I was not planning to come to any GCC country,” he said. But with four children and a wife, he added that he lacked the means to go anywhere else.
“If I had money, I would have left a long time ago,” he said.
While in Qatar, Al-Mutairy filed cases against Saudi Arabia in the Hague and in Brussels, and contacted NHRC-Qatar for assistance, but faced a long, drawn-out process.
He said he was first ordered to leave Qatar in September 2012, but managed to stay with the help of human rights groups. But this month, calls for him to go resumed.
With public support from Amnesty, and funding from the NHRC, al-Mutairy and his family managed to leave for Morocco on Jan. 18.
In a statement, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Philip Luther said:
“The spotlight shone on this case resulted in the Qatari authorities curtailing their plans to deport Mishal al-Mutiry long enough for him and his family to leave of their own accord, and the assistance of the NHRC was crucial to ensuring they could travel.”
“Given that Mishal al-Mutiry faced a real risk of torture in Saudi Arabia, it is a huge relief that the authorities did not end up forcing him to return there.”
The week before he left Qatar, al-Mutairi told Doha News that he’d been in touch with the United Nations and a number of countries’ embassies.
“[The] first one – if they will give me a visa, I will go,” he said. “My children, they are too… tired of this.”
Credit: Photo by Kristen Thogersen