'He'll be like Khashoggi': Wife of Australian facing deportation to Saudi Arabia shares fears

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.

Australian citizen Osama Al-Hasani has been detained in Morocco for three weeks

Australian citizen Osama Al-Hasani has been detained in Morocco for three weeks Source: Supplied

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.

Osama Al-Hasani's wife says she fears for his life if he is deported to Saudi Arabia.
Osama Al-Hasani's wife says she fears for his life if he is deported to Saudi Arabia. Source: Supplied

"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 , 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 his fate will be like that of Jamal Khashoggi," his wife, who SBS News has chosen not to name, told SBS News via WhatsApp on Monday, referring to the Washington Post columnist who was allegedly killed by the Saudi government officials in 2018.

"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."

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018. Source: AP

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 which concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to "capture or kill" Mr Khashoggi in Instanbul, Turkey.

“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in the report.

Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and US resident, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi officials have denied any involvement of the Crown Prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, in Mr Khashoggi's death.

The Morrocan and Saudi Arabian embassies in Australia have been contacted for comment. 

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4 min read
Published 1 March 2021 at 3:36pm
By Maani Truu