Rabat – An Australian citizen has reportedly been detained in Morocco at the behest of Saudi authorities, over allegations of involvement with political activism.
Usama Al-Hasan was detained approximately three weeks ago upon his arrival in Rabat, according to Australian human rights groups. The man reportedly holds Saudi and Australian passports. He is also an associate professor of business information systems and a consultant for international business and trade, according to his Twitter bio.
ABC News has reported that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed providing consular assistance to an Australian detainee in Morocco. But the report, citing privacy concerns, did not name the concerned Australian citizen.
According to Prisoner of Conscience, a Saudi human rights group, Al-Hasan was travelling on his Australian passport when he was detained upon his arrival in Rabat.
“Moroccan authorities will put Dr Usama Al-Hasani to trial on 3 March, then he’d be most probably deported to Saudi Arabia, where the real danger lies,” Prisoners of Conscience stated.
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Following his arrest, “the Australian embassy in Rabat intervened and pressured the government to release him, but in vain,” read another tweet from the organization.
Local Moroccan media report that Al-Hasan recently travelled to Britain, and that the Saudi authorities accuse him of participation in anti-Wahhabist advocacy.
The arrest comes at a particularly difficult time for the Saudi government, only days after the US accused the Gulf kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the 2018 murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudi government is often criticized for its grim record on human rights and alleged infractions of personal freedoms. In 2020, former Saudi intelligence official Saad al-Jabri filed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Jabri accused the Saudi Crown Prince of plotting his assassination and directing the “arrest, detention and kidnapping” of members of his family.