Rayed Ali still in Saudi jail

Green MP Keith Locke has written to the Saudi government expressing his concern over the ongoing imprisonment of Rayed Ali, six weeks after he was deported from New Zealand on May 30 for formerly being associated with a September 11 terrorist.

Mr Locke yesterday received news from Rayed Ali’s brother that Mr Ali is still incarcerated in Saudi Arabia.

“It made me sad because Mr Ali was living freely in Saudi Arabia before he came to New Zealand in February. He wouldn’t be in jail now, but for the aspersions on his character in New Zealand, and the way in which he was expelled under the most draconian provisions of the Immigration Act.

“Today I wrote to the Saudi authorities explaining that our Prime Minister justified his expulsion on only two grounds, that he had been ‘a roommate of a 9/11 terrorist…[and] is having pilot training”.

“I expressed concern that Mr Ali had been bundled out of the country the day after his arrest on May 29, without time to offer a legal response to the accusations.

“If Mr Ali was in any way complicit in the September 11 events he would have been arrested in the United States, or at least deported. Neither happened. In fact Mr Ali volunteered information on what he knew about September 11 terrorist Hani Hanjour.

“There is no mystery about Mr Ali, a keen flyer, wanting to improve on the American pilot’s license he qualified for in 1998.

“I also relayed to the Saudi authorities that Immigration Minister David Cunliffe had reassured New Zealanders on June 12 that Mr Ali was not ‘planning anything untoward’ and there was no ‘terrorist risk associated with this gentleman while he was in New Zealand.’

“I have also written to our Prime Minister asking her to take an interest in Mr Ali’s welfare, particularly as I believe he is in a Saudi jail as a result of her government’s decision to deport him. There is no indication from his family that he has been mistreated in jail. However, our government should have taken into account Saudi Arabia’s atrocious human rights record before they deported him. A US State Department report this year says that prisoners are often subject to “beatings, whippings and sleep deprivation”.