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The New Arab Staff

Morocco urged not to extradite Saudi-Australian theologian

Hasani was formerly employed as university professor in Saudi Arabia [AOHR]

Date of publication: 9 March, 2021

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Extradition proceedings against Osama al-Hasani began this week.
The family of a Saudi-Australian theologian detained in Morocco have urged the country not to extradite him to Saudi Arabia amid fears "his fate will be like that of Jamal Khashoggi".

Extradition proceedings against Osama al-Hasani, 42, began on Monday.

Hasani was detained last month in Morocco, where he had traveled to join his wife and child, after an Interpol notice was filed by Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi court has sentenced the dual national to two years in prison on charges of theft, although reports claim the businessman, Qu'ran reciter and former professor faces jailtime in Saudi Arabia due to his opposition of Riyadh's ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and activism against the country's rulers.

The Moroccan court case has been mired with questions over the legality of Hasani's proposed extradition.

Court documents state Hasani was born to a Moroccan father, an attendee at Monday's hearing told Reuters.

That would make him Moroccan under Moroccan law, which also prevents Moroccan nationals from being extraditing to other countries.

Relatives and rights groups also point to Saudi Arabia's rights record.

Hasani's wife, Hana, fears the theologian could be tortured or even killed if extradited to the Gulf kingdom.

"Morocco has ratified an anti-torture convention and should abstain from extraditing a national to a state where he may endure torture," Khadija Ryadi of Moroccan rights group AMDH was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The already complex case also involves allegations of corruption leveled by Prisoners of Conscience, a rights group that monitors the cases and treatment of Saudi detainees.

Prisoners of Conscience alleged on Tuesday that Moroccan officials were bribed by Saudi diplomats to detain Hasani and begin extradition proceedings against him.

"We call on the Moroccan king to intervene directly in the case and to work to hold accountable everyone who was bribed by [the Saudi] embassy," the rights group said in a tweet.

The New Arab could not independently confirm the allegations.

Hasani's family has also urged the Australian government to intervene in the case.

An Australian embassy official has visited Hasani in jail, the foreign ministry said in a statement last week without providing further details.

"The circumstances of his detention and possible extradition are of concern to Australia," the ministry said.

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