The wife of Australian-Saudi citizen Osama Al-Hasani has told SBS News she fears for the life of her husband who was taken into custody by Moroccan authorities three weeks ago.
An Australian citizen has been detained in Morocco and is facing possible extradition to Saudi Arabia where his family fear he will face the same fate as murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Osama Al-Hasani (also spelt as Usama Al-Husaini), a dual Australian-Saudi citizen, was visiting his newborn child in Morocco when he was arrested four hours after arriving at Casablanca’s international airport on 8 February, his wife told SBS News on Monday.
It is understood the 42-year-old is currently being held at a prison in Tiflet, a town in northwestern Morocco.
Saudi-born Dr Al-Hasani was travelling on his Australian passport when he entered Morocco, according to human rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which advocates on behalf of people detained in Saudi Arabia.
“We confirm that Moroccan authorities will put Dr Usama Al-Husaini to trial on 3 March, then he’d most probably be deported to Saudi Arabia, where the real danger lies,” they tweeted on Sunday.
“The issue is really urgent and there is [a] threat upon his life. We reassert that he has no relation to any political opposition activity.”
According to local media, he has been targeted for allegedly participating in the organisation of “an activity of public opposition” to the Islamic sect Wahhabism, the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia. Dr Al-Husaini had recently been residing in Britain, according to Prisoners of Conscience.
“I am afraid that my husband will be handed over to the Saudi authorities, I am afraid to lose [our newborn child’s] father.”
His wife said she was able to meet her husband for five minutes two days after his arrest, where he told her he was being pressured to sign a document allowing him to be handed over to Saudi authorities without trial.
“He lives on water and a piece of bread only,” she said. “The situation is catastrophic.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed they were providing consular assistance to an Australian citizen detained in Morocco but declined to provide further information citing privacy obligations.
Dr Al-Hasani’s Twitter profile, which has more than 5,000 followers, says he is an “Associate Professor of business information systems” and a “consultant for international business trade”.
Prisoners of Conscience describe him as a “prominent figure”, a merchant, Quran reader, and former professor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
The news of Dr Al-Hasani’s detention comes days after the release of a declassified United States intelligence report which concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to “capture or kill” Mr Khashoggi in Instanbul, Turkey.