Ex-diplomat flees Qatar amid fears of deportation to torture in Saudi Arabia

A former Saudi Arabian diplomat who was due to be deported from Qatar to his native country was able to travel to Morocco after receiving support from Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, Amnesty International said. Mishal bin Zaar Hamad al-Mutiry, aged 50, and his family are now in Morocco after leaving the Gulf country on 18 January. The Qatari authorities halted his deportation to Saudi Arabia after pressure, including from Amnesty International, and efforts by Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), which intervened to help pay the al-Mutiry family’s travel expenses to Morocco.“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,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.“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.”Before leaving for Morocco, Mishal al-Mutiry had lived in Qatar since August 2011, when he fled there from his native Saudi Arabia.Earlier this month, Qatari police had twice summoned Mishal al-Mutiry to inform him of impending plans to forcibly return him to Saudi Arabia in line with requests from the Saudi Arabian authorities. Amnesty International believes that there is a credible risk the former diplomat could face arbitrary detention or torture if he sets foot in Saudi Arabia again. The fears stem from his previous ill-treatment in the country’s capital, Riyadh, and the Saudi Arabian authorities’ intolerance of criticism. In 2006, the ex-diplomat said he was detained for six months and tortured after officers allegedly working for the Saudi Arabian authorities tracked him down and forced him to board a plane from Brussels back to Riyadh. At the time, Mishal al-Mutiry had been living in the Netherlands, where he had been granted political asylum in 2004. He feared retribution from the Saudi Arabian authorities after they dismissed him from his job at the country’s embassy in The Hague following allegations he made that the embassy was complicit in funding terrorism.“We will continue to monitor his situation and react if the risk of being deported to Saudi Arabia arises again,” said Luther.