Monday, May 23, 2005

What's Missing In Saudi Arabia

Torture Victims Update III

There can be no doubt that one of the concepts missing in Saudi Arabia (and many countries around the world) is the idea that every person deserves to be innocent until proven guilty and that each person deserves to have their individual rights protected under the law lest the lack of these rights for some become the lack of rights for all.

It is without a doubt that Saudi Arabia operates on a system of "who you know" as to whether one could expect to be treated "humanely" while incarcerated or investigated. Even further, if someone connected royally, monetarily or politically within Saudi Arabia, it is very likely that they will not receive the punishment that any poor citizen, second class Shia, or worse yet, third class foreign workers have received at the hands of the Saudi Arabian security and judicial system.

Point in fact, when Osama bin Laden threatened the Saudi government, he was not incarcerated nor killed. His brother was able to negotiate a deal with Prince Naif in order to allow him to be stripped of his Saudi citizenship and leave the country. To my knowledge, if Osama bin Laden was in Saudi Arabia today, it is very likely that he would be put under "house arrest" and probably summarily pardoned after giving his "mea culpa" for creating such havoc within the country and around the world. His family is no slacker when it comes to loaning money or contributing funds to selected royal members and "foundations".

It is certainly what has happened with other sons of wealthy and politically connected families or religious structure within Saudi Arabia. As recently as last year "amnesty" was issued for those terrorists that would turn themselves in even after being responsible for killing both Saudi citizens and other nationals living within Saudi Arabia.

Even the concept of liquor and drugs, anathema to the Islamic way of life, is certainly treated differently among all the parts of Saudi Society. The wealthy and or connected are not charged with anything as long as they apologize, beg forgiveness and are quietly ushered away to one of three government funded programs/rehab facilities.

If you're poor or other country national, you will not be so lucky. Imprisonment and death await you as charges of conspiracies to sell or smuggle drugs and alcohol ino the state can be perpetuated for as little as having a joint in your possession, a bottle of scotch in your cabinet or even the idea that you are not Muslim and therefore probably a drunk and drug abuser because only the Saudi/Muslim citizen is pure of these thoughts.

In Saudi Arabia, if you openly show your religion to not be Muslim, much less openly or secretely practice worship, you can be killed for prosletyzing. Bibles are routinely destroyed and people are rounded up, particularly third world nationals whose countries have no political power and rely on remittance from Saudi Arabia to supplement their economy. They take the idea of "defenders of the faith" to mean that their idea of worship cannot really compete with any other religion therefore, it must be destroyed and kept from ideas of their people unless it is in villifying that religion or its adherents as something inhuman as they have done against the Jews for years.

Without a doubt, the Saudi government is not only two faced in it's dealings with education and fanatical religion supported by the government, it is also one of the biggest liars in order to protect its "sovreignty" and "righteous" rule. While the Muslim world seeths about alleged abuse within Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib or Afghantistan, none of which is institutionalized nor policy, torture and abuse are both within the Arabic world and in particular within Saudi Arabia.

In my previous updates, I told you about Dr. William Sampson and Sandy Mitchell. Today I will point to two other victims of this institutionalized, policy driven, and, in this case, political CYA arrest and torture of non-Saudi citizens.

Ron Jones, along with the other victims of this incident, has been seeking to sue the Saudi government for compensation.

His own story is similar to the others:

He had been in Saudi Arabia for four months working for a petro-chemical company when he was injured by shrapnel in a bomb blast and taken to hospital where security forces dragged him from his bed and arrested him on suspicion of causing the explosion.

He said: "They ruined my life. I think about what they did every single day. My hands are painful, my hip is bad and I can't walk very far. I can't work and I feel like I'm sinking fast."

The laws of Britain give other countries immunity against prosecution or suit within its legal system, but individuals from other countries can be sued:

"This intervention is not about the attitude of HM Government to torture which is an abhorrent practice. It is about the entitlement in international law of foreign states to immunity from proceedings before the courts of other states."[snip]

"I have made it perfectly clear that there is no way I am going to let them get away with torturing me."

The case has already been heard in the Court of Appeal, where Mr Jones was given the right to sue the individual torturer, whom he has identified as Lt Col Abdul Aziz.

But he was denied the right to seek compensation from the Saudi state and, since Mr Aziz has no assets here, the victory was hollow.

The other issue here is that the government has not demanded any apology nor compensation for its citizens from the Saudi government which insisted that they did not torture these men even though the proof existed on their bodies, particularly, Mr. Jones:

His torture claims were bolstered by physical evidence found by doctors after his release following two months captivity in Saudi Arabia.

In particular, Mr. Jones and his compatriots are highly dissatisfied, if not angry over their own governments inability or lack of desire to pursue the matter with the Saudi government. Mr. Jones released this statement to the press:

I had a meeting with Baroness Symons the FCO Minister on 10th February 2005. At that meeting I was assured that HM Government was doing everything possible to resolve the issue of redress for torture that I had suffered at the hands of Saudi Arabian officials. Baroness Symons raised the matter with Prince Saud the foreign minister at the “Two Kingdoms” UK- Saudi conference in London on 23rd February. She raised the matter again when she was in Riyadh on 15th March . Prince Saud made clear his firm belief that the issue was for the lawyers to discuss and resolve. My solicitors have been told that the Saudis’ solicitors have no instructions from their client in this regard. What firm beliefs did HM Government give to the Saudi Arabian Government? I wonder! "Yes Minister" springs to mind.

On 17th March, two days after Baroness Symon’s meeting in Riyadh, I was advised by the Treasury solicitor that the Department of Constitution Affairs was intervening in my case in the House of Lords. Surprise Surprise! HM Government must have done everything in their power to resolve this matter they are now intervening in the House of Lords. Guess what? HM Government are standing side by side with the Saudi Arabian Government. The British Government together with the Saudi Government do not want torturers brought to justice in an English Court.

Rule Britannia or should it be Rule Saudiya.

I received this via a personal email from Mr. Ron Jones.

Another personal email was received from Mary Martini, the ex wife of Jim Cottle who was also a victim of cover up and torture in Saudi Arabia. In it she tells me how Mr. Cottle was arrested:

when James Cottle my ex husband was arrested, he was actualy living in UK, he was lured back to the Middle east, for a lucrative job offer, he was then kidnapped at Bahrain airport, he was driven across to riyahd, James was the last to be arrested in 2001, he then was made to make a televised confession, this was after he spent 66 days and nights suffering hideous torture.

Why Jim was tortured that long shows they were determined, his kids on his mind all the time, wondering what they thought at his confession, after the 66 days he was moved to Al-Haer jail, once out of the interrigation center the torture stops, although the mental torture begins with full force, James was 18 stones when arrested, he came back 11 stones, he was weak and nervous, not the Dad my kids had known, his skin was hanging from his bones, he was suffering from severe depression and PST.

That would be post traumatic stress disorder to those outside the medical field, also known as PTSD.

This man was kidnapped and then beaten to give a confession, then incarcerated for two years, induring continual beatings and other tortures until he was finally released into British officials hands.

It is very likely that a deal was struck with the governments that the British government would not pursue any activities against Saudi Arabia if they were released and the issue dropped.

The worst part is that the devestation is not limited to the victims themselves, but certainly affected the the families.

Ms. Martini goes on to tell how it affected her family:

Jim was like this for a while and things were difficult, the last thing on his mind was talking to press, he still has councelling and suffers nightmmares, he also was sent to the parker institute for examination, it was proved he has been tortured, yet our Government will not say publicily that these men are innocent, this is how it gives saudi the right to say what they like in the arab news, the impact on the families was underestimated, we were only told of the sentences in April 2002, up until then were were under the impressin that Jim coild get beheaded, the trauma my Daughter suffered was so bad she tried to take her own life, To get a phone call from a hospital knowing she wanted to die because of this broke my heart, how could this happen.

Mr. Jones has similar issues:

Mr Jones, who worked in Hong Kong for eight years followed by a 15-year spell in the City, now has to survive on £170 a week in income support, incapacity benefit and child benefit for his 15-year-old son, Grant, and wife, Sandra, 56.

As I pointed out in the earlier posts, the Arab News is still portraying the government line that these men were involved in smuggling or destilling alcohol and the explosions were "gang related" retaliation. None of these men had jobs, backgrounds or reason to have been involved in such an activity. They were all making lucrative salaries in Saudi Arabia. Further, shortly after these events, additional bombings and attacks, clearly and fully attributable to terrorist extremists within Saudi Arabia, occured against westerners.

Yet the Saudi government still maintains the lie about these men because, if they don't, they will not be able to justify their actions in any manner.

One must wonder at the British government not demanding an accounting of the treatment of these men and wonder where, if anywhere, in England, there is a cry of outrage to the government to take some action in at least censuring or dressing down the Saudi representative, if not demanding that their citizens be compensated.

All of the correspondents in this suit have expressed similar outrage at their government for failing to do their duty by their citizens:

In particular, Jim cannot forget, the day he was trying to walk back to his cell, his feet were lumpy and bleeding, they had just beaten him, drops of blood marked the floor, he was devastated that the torturers were sniggering at the blood drops, this is humiliation at its extreme, all this time my Government were telling lies and more worried about covering it up, because I spoke with the press early on a personal attack was launched against me to the other relatives, this was to make sure we didnt join up and go out full force, this was a diplomatic headache and our Government did not have the backbone to haul the saudi ambassador on the carpet, they were just content to let these men rot.

The sheer anger and frustration I went through listening to lies, and for them to be so flipant, they had at one point given up hope of ever getting these men free, I put the blame on My Government for almost destroying my family, Jim swallowed a fish backbone while he was incarcerated, so he also wanted to die, as he didnt think he was getting out any time soon, I suffered a heart attack and the blame goes to the incompetatnt UK government.

Rule Britannnia.

Government wimps of the first order.

There is not doubt that the majority of the blame lies with Saudi Arabia.

What's missing here and in many other states of the ME, is the idea that individuals have rights and deserve to be secure in their persons, given fair treatment and representation before the law, innocent until proven guilty and not subject to punishment without due process of the law, real and equitable law, not the trumped up courts and cronyism that exists today.

It must be beyond abhorrent to have such a system in place that will regularly pardon terrorist murderers and yet would imprison, torture and behead people for alleged association in smuggling or distilling alcohol or prosletyzing. It is abhorrent that they would give pardon to such terrorists, knowing that they perpetuated these crimes on the Saudi people and yet continue to insist that westerners were responsible for planting bombs to blow themselves up.

The idea is preposterous and should not go unnoticed nor unchallenged.


Scott from Oregon said...

Ms. Martini used to post on The Religious Policeman. This whole sordid enterprise reeks of bad TV drama, though no hack wrote it.....

Having seen people 'set up' for drugs in Bali, as well as having a good female 'friend' incarcerated in Japan for 'conspiracy to corrupt the youth of Japan' (she sent a joint back to Tokyo from Hawaii to her girl friend for Christmas, then was met at Narita when she returned two weeks later and escorted to jail....

.... I can witness to ya'll just how scary and fucked up foreign criminalist can be....

Donal said...

Story in the Washington Post on this subject here Apparently these men were only released after the US released 5 Saudi suspects into Saudi hands.

Moron99 said...


I have immense respect for your opinion. But, you go on about a sympton without ever addressing the cause. Until the cause is fixed there will always be a plethora of symptons. The House of Saud is good at treating the right symptons to make our POTUS happy. But they are also good at never disturbing the cause. Everything changes just enough so that nothing is really changed.

The problem is the social taboo on questioning authority. The dictator makes the rules and the conspiring Imams make sure that it is taboo to question him. The dictator and the Imams who agree with him are guaranteed wealth and power for so long as they shall live. If the people awaken and demand answers, as they did in Lebanon ... the dictator has lost. Until then he can change everything else but really change nothing at all.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

It's the Saudi phenomenon that makes me concerned about Guantanamo, because even if the House of Saud were to reform their legal system to where they immitated our GITMO camp, holding terror suspects without hearings or lawyers, even without torture I would be concerned about whether innocent people got caught in their "net". Seeing it from that angle, makes me want to see all of the GITMO residents get a fair trial and everything that we accord to, well, SERIAL KILLERS at least.

Moron99, the House of Saud is playing a very delicate game of power, because while they can remove one or two of the Imams here and there if they set them up, the Imams collectively could band together and declare a Fattwa that the whole Saudi royal house is heretical, and they all wouldn't last a minute from the uprising.

In a way it's like an internal Cold War in Saudi Arabia. Each side looks for minor ways to exploit the other's weaknesses and gain small key advantages, while the overall actions surround a policy of containment and d├ętente.

The unfortunate thing about the internal Saudi conflicts is that the U.S. administrations are never willing to shake things up, let the tension boil over into civil war, and do a clean sweep similar to what we did in Iraq, and no, it's NOT "all" about the oil, but more about particular portions of oil profits going into particular American pockets.

If America were to become oil-independant through alternative energy or the discovery of some mythical mother lode under Yucca Mountain or wherever, it would mainly just get us independant of some minor union arbitration dispute issues with Venezuela. No biggy there. But it might also remove any excuse whatsoever that American petrochemically-addicted politicians for treading way too lightly on Saudi politics, especially when Saudi politicians harbor about ten times more al Qaeda sympathisers as even Pakistan, and they hold a helluva lot.

Moron99 said...


I think they fear oil revenues going into the hands of militant Imams more than they fear high gas prices.

Kat said...


I was trying to express the idea that what was missing was the basis of most civil societies.

Understanding of what individual rights (and freedoms) mean and guaranteeing them.

Certainly, repressive countries can never have this basis as the direct and strong use of power in all situations insures that everyone knows who is in power and what will happen if they challenge it.

In this case, the continued abuse of these gentleman and their arrests were obviously attempts by Naif to cover up his internal security failures since the idea of princes and kings appointed via God is that they are perfect and make no mistakes.

Tom said...

Hey Kat

Glad to see you made contact with Mary and Ron. This is an important story and needs wide exposure.