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Together for Justice Calls on Bulgaria Not to Extradite Activist Abdul Rahman Al-Khalidi to Saudi Arabia

Together for Justice organisation has held the Bulgarian authorities responsible for the activist Abdul al-Rahman Al-Khalidi’s safety, stressing that he is at high risk of torture and ill-treatment should he be extradited to Saudi Arabia due to the Kingdom’s poor human rights record.

The Saudi activist Abd al-Rahman Al-Khalidi, who was forced to leave the Kingdom in 2013, was arrested in Bulgaria on October 23, 2021, after submitting an asylum application for fear of any political persecution he may face if he returns to his homeland over his political activism. 

Following his arrest, Al-Khalidi was placed in administrative detention. A few days ago, he was informed that he will be moved to a deportation centre as a prelude to his forcible extradition to Saudi Arabia, despite the life-threatening risks he may face there.

Last February, Bulgarian National Security Agency investigators informed al-Khalidi that contacts were made with their Saudi counterparts to deport him on a private plane accompanied by Saudi officials. Al-Khalidi was also told that his asylum application, applied for four months ago, had been rejected and that he will be deported due to political relations between the two countries.

The State Agency for Refugees (DAB) claimed that the deportation decision was made after careful research concluded that Saudi Arabia does not pose any threat or danger to al-Khalidi’s life.

On the fourth page of the deportation order, DAB claimed that Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that rules by the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah and that the people enjoy a “democratic atmosphere” and “high authority,” citing the 2015 municipal elections held in the Kingdom. The Saudi security services’ human rights violations are limited, the order reads.

Al-Khalidi affirmed that he was denied his medication after being moved to the Busmantsi detention centre. SANS investigator accepted to provide him with his drugs in case he undergoes an informal investigation without his lawyer’s presence, a demand was strongly rejected by al-Khalidi.

Al-Khalidi’s lawyer has earlier demanded to be transferred to the hospital after his health deterioration due to his difficult detention conditions. He started suffering a severe panic attacks and auditory hallucinations. However, the demand was rejected.

In an attempt to save his life, al-Khalidi has contacted the UNHCR to intervene and prevent his deportation. However, the UNHCR said that his file is followed up by the Bulgarian Intelligence.

In this regard, Together for Justice calls on the international community to stop the Saudi persecution policy against political activists abroad and to intervene for their protection.

Together for Justice also warns of the serious implications of accepting the request made by the Saudi government for the extradition of al-Khalidi or any other political activist.

Al-Khalidi is at high risk of torture and ill-treatment should he be extradited to Saudi Arabia. We are also convinced that there is a strong possibility that he would not be tried by a fair and impartial court.

We join the human rights calls for the immediate release of al-Khalidi, and we call for mass participation in #Stop_Al-Khalidi_Deportation social media campaign to raise awareness about his case.

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