URGENT ALERT: Support Majid al-Mass’ari, imprisoned in the US and due to be deported to Saudi
IHRC calls on all campaigners to support Majid al-Mass’ari who has been unlawfully imprisoned in the US and who may be soon deported to Saudi Arabia
Islamic Human Rights Commission
5 January 2005
URGENT ALERT: Support Majid al-Mass’ari
On 17th July 2004, Majid al-Massari was arrested and imprisoned by American authorities. Majid, a Saudi national, came to the US in 1994 for an advanced physics degree and seven years later began working at the University of Washington, School of Nursing where he was employed at the time of his arrest. In 2003, Majid was convicted of a minor drug misdemeanour.
Over a year later, this conviction was used as a pretext for his arrest by federal immigration officials who claimed that the conviction violated his immigration status. However, authorities proceeded to use measures aimed at investigating terrorism suspects. Using a warrant, the FBI\’s Joint Terrorism Task Force seized Majid’s home and office computers, informing him he was under investigation for providing material support to terrorists. Majid was jailed, kept in solitary confinement and barred from contacting anyone for a week. His friends and colleagues were visited by federal authorities but were told they couldn’t talk about it.
Majid is the son of prominent dissident and opposition leader to the Saudi regime, Dr. Muhammad al-Mass’ari. Dr al-Mass’ari is considered a seditionist and a criminal by the Saudi Arabian government due to his opposition to them. It now seems that to be related to a dissident is a crime in itself.
Majid now faces deportation to Saudi Arabia where he is very likely to be imprisoned, tortured and even executed. Majid has not been charged as a terrorist but his deportation case has focused intensely on his father’s political opinions and not on his drug conviction. Majid has now applied for asylum under the Convention Against Torture which prohibits deportation of individuals if there is a well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland. On 27th October 2004, an immigration judge determined that Majid was \”removable\” because of the drug conviction; it\’s now up to him to prove he should not be sent to Saudi Arabia. Originally set for mid-December, the issues relating to the Convention Against Torture will be heard in early February 2005.
IHRC is calling on all campaigners to support Majid al-Mass’ari by all possible means:
1. Contact the foreign ministry in your country and ask them to raise this issue of unlawful imprisonment with their American counterparts and to remind them of their obligations under international law with regards to deportation of persons to countries where they may face persecution.
The address and a sample letter for the foreign minister in London can be found below.
2. Write letters to your local and national newspapers and other media outlets requesting them to raise awareness of the issue.
Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Dear Mr. Straw:
RE: US Imprisonment and Deportation of Majid al-Massari
I am writing out of concern for the fate of Mr. Majid al-Mass’ary who is currently facing deportation from the US to Saudi Arabia over a drug-related conviction in violation of his visa conditions in 2003.
Despite not facing any formal charge of terrorism, the entire deportation proceedings against Mr. Mass’ari have focused on irrelevant facts and information about terrorism. Much is also being made about the political views of Mr. Mass’ari’s father, a Saudi dissident based in the UK. Very little, if anything, however has been said about Mr. Mass’ari’s drug misdemeanour conviction. The fact that he was not deported immediately following the conviction but was arrested over one year later based on this conviction indicates that this is only a pretext for his deportation.
I understand that Mr. Mass’ari may ultimately be deported to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is notorious for its human rights abuses and many human rights organisations have condemned it for its imprisonment and torture of dissidents. Amnesty International, in a report this year on human rights in Saudi Arabia, said \”hundreds of suspected religious activists and critics of the state were arrested or detained following their forcible return from other countries, and the legal status of those held from previous years remained shrouded in secrecy.\”
I fear that, due to his father’s beliefs and the allegations being made against him, Majid al-Mass’ari will most certainly face imprisonment, torture or even execution should he be deported back to Saudi Arabia. I would like to raise these issues with your American counterpart and remind the American government of its obligations under international law, and in particular the UN Convention Against Torture, which prohibits deportation of individuals if there is a well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience,
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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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