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'He’ll be like Khashoggi': Wife fears for Saudi-Australian detained in Morocco

Australian consular officials intervene, as fears grow that dual citizen arrested last month may be extradited to Riyadh
Osama al-Hasani was arrested on 8 February hours after arriving in Morocco to visit his newborn child (Screengrab/Twitter)

A Saudi-Australian citizen detained in Morocco last month is facing possible extradition to Saudi Arabia, where his life could be under threat, his wife has warned.

Osama al-Hasani, a businessman who holds dual Saudi and Australian citizenship, was arrested on 8 February while visiting his newborn child in Morocco. 

'I am afraid that my husband will be handed over to the Saudi authorities, I am afraid to lose [our newborn child's] father'

- Wife of Osama al-Hasani

He was detained four hours after arriving at Casablanca’s international airport, his wife told Australia’s SBS News on Monday. 

“I am afraid that his fate will be like that of Jamal Khashoggi,” Hasani’s wife, who chose not to be named, said, referring to the Washington Post and Middle East Eye journalist who was killed by Saudi agents at the consulate in Istanbul in October 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.”

She confirmed that she had met her husband for five minutes days after the arrest, during which he told her that he was being pressured into signing a document allowing him to be handed over to Saudi authorities without a trial.

She also said that he was surviving on “water and pieces of bread only”, describing his situation as “catastrophic”.

Supporters of Hasani told The Guardian that his case was politically motivated, and that Saudi had requested for him to be extradited. 

'Don't deport Osama al-Hasani'

The Prisoners of Conscience Twitter account, which advocates for Saudi detainees, said that the businessman had visited the UK recently, but had not participated in any political opposition. 

This appears to a be a response to a report in Moroccan media which initially appeared to link the arrest with alleged involvement in protest activity against the Wahabi religious sect which dominates Islam in Saudi Arabia. 

Social media users tweeted the hashtag "Don't deport Osama al-Hasani" in both English and Arabic, with many demanding Moroccan and Australian authorities to intervene. 

Australian consular officials confirmed on Monday that they were trying to help an unnamed citizen who had been detained.

“[We are] providing consular assistance, in accordance with the consular services charter, to an Australian detained in Morocco,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. “Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment.”

The news comes just days after the United States declassified a report which accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of approving Khashoggi’s murder. The slain journalist’s fiancee has called for the crown prince to be “punished without delay”.