An Australian businessman is fighting extradition to Saudi Arabia after being arrested in Morocco over alleged anti-government activism.
Usama Al-Hasani was travelling on his Australian passport when he was detained upon arrival in the Moroccan capital Rabat three weeks ago.
Dr Hasani, who holds dual Australian and Saudi citizenship, is accused of being involved in a group that opposes the Saudi state-sponsored form of Islam known as Wahhabism, Moroccan news site Yabiladi reported.
Saudi human rights group Prisoners of Conscience said Dr Al-Husaini was arrested on request of Saudi authorities who also requested his deportation as soon as possible.
‘We confirm that Moroccan authorities will put Dr Usama Al-Husaini to trial on three March, then he’d be most probably deported to Saudi Arabia, where the real danger lies, because he’ll be either killed or put in prison for several years,’ it tweeted.
The group described Dr Al-Husaini as a ‘prominent figure’.
‘He is a merchant, a Quran reader, and a former professor at King Abdulaziz University [in Jeddah],’ Prisoners of Conscience tweeted,
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was providing consular assistance to an Australian detained in Morocco.
Australian Middle East expert Rodger Shanahan from the Lowy Institute told The Australian he believes the case will present a challenge to the Australian Government.
Dr Al-Husaini describes himself on his Twitter account as an Associate Professor of Business Information Systems and consultant for international business and trade.
‘I bear witness that the property is for God and everything else is false,’ his Twitter bio reads.
‘Licensed in several novels and I love poetry and history, interested in spirituality.’
There is concern Dr Al-Husaini’s arrest is at least in part an attempt by the Saudi ruling family to undermine opposition to its rule.
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to US intelligence released on Friday.
US President Joe Biden declared he would hold Saudi Arabia ‘accountable’ for Khashoggi’s murder, but stopped short of broad sanctions so far.