Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An attempt to impose Sharia on us.

Video pitch to Obama to free jailed Saudi

RIYADH (AFP) – A group of Saudis has launched a video plea to US President Barack Obama to free a Saudi man sentenced to 28 years in jail in Colorado for abusing an Indonesian housemaid.

The five-minute video, in Arabic with English subtitles, was made public on Monday.

It features conservative and liberal Saudi figures asking Obama to pardon Humaidan al-Turki, who was convicted by a Colorado court in 2006 for imprisoning and sexually abusing the maid while he was a doctoral student.

They cite numerous pardons by US presidents of men convicted of ostensibly more serious crimes, such as arms and drug smuggling.

"We, as the Saudi public, ask Obama to look at Humaidan al-Turki's issue, using the same eyes" that previous presidents used in granting pardons, it says.

The campaign comes in the wake of a US Supreme Court rejection in April of Turki's appeal.

The case and the stiff sentence angered many Saudis, who supported Turki's argument that he was being victimised in the anti-Muslim atmosphere in the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

But the Colorado appeals court and state supreme court rejected that, upholding the conviction on 15 counts of enslaving and not paying the maid and sexually abusing her.

Asim al-Ghamdi, one of the ivdeo's makers, said they want to build a Saudi and pan-Arab campaign before directly approaching US officials.

"The first step is sharing it through the new media, like Facebook," he said.

The video features Turki's daughter, conservative cleric Sheikh Salman al-Ouda and progressive writer and journalist Turki al-Dhakil, among others.

In the 18 hours since the video was first made public on YouTube, it was viewed more than 100,000 times, Ghamdi said.

"All of the Saudi people know (Humaidan) very well. He is a very straight person."

"We will not argue on whether he did this," Ghamdi said of the charges on which he was convicted.

"Even if he did all of these things, we think 28 years is too much."

The case has been raised by Saudi officials in several exchanges with US counterparts, but to no avail.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers travelled to Riyadh in December 2006 to explain the original convictions to Saudi officials.

A US embassy official in Riyadh referred queries on the case and the new video petition to the White House.

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