Saudi Dissident Vows to Fight Deportation
Jan. 05, 1996
LONDON (AP) _ A leading Saudi dissident vowed Thursday to fight a deportation order to Dominica _ but said if he is forced to go, he will continue his struggle from the Caribbean island he had never heard of until this week.
``We will (struggle) from here, or, God forbid, from Dominica,'' Mohammed al-Masari said at a news conference held at the Parliament building. ``From the moon, from elsewhere, we will continue.''
Al-Masari runs the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights in Saudi Arabia, an anti-Riyadh, anti-American group that demands greater democracy and campaigns against alleged corruption in the Saudi royal family.
Britain rejected an application for political asylum and ordered him deported to Dominica, which offered him asylum. He was given 10 days to appeal.
Al-Masari said he learned he had been offered asylum in Dominica when he received a faxed invitation from Prime Minister Edison James.
A devout Muslim and a physicist, he said he would find it hard living on the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic island, where pork is a favored meat and there is no university.
Even so, he thanked James for the ``dignified'' invitation.
``This is the first ever I hear Dominica,'' he told BBC radio.
The deportation order, coming after pressure from Saudi Arabia and its British trade partners, angered human rights activists, who charged Britain with making the decision to foster trade relations.
British immigration officials didn't deny it.
``If people come here and use our hospitality in order to attack extremely friendly governments with whom we have good diplomatic and very good trade relations, then we have a very difficult balance to strike,'' said Ann Widdecombe, the second-ranking official in the Home Office.
Al-Masari uses faxes and e-mail to report allegations of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia to news agencies based in London _ and, he said, to hundreds of Saudis. He also publishes a newsletter called ``Prince of the Month,'' in which he lampoons Saudi royals by exposing alleged corruption and buffoonery.
A member of a leading Saudi family and a professor of physics at King Saud University, al-Masari, 49, was arrested by Saudi police in May 1993.
He was held for six months and says he was tortured. On his release, he fled to Yemen, obtained a passport, flew to Britain in April 1994 and applied for political asylum last year.