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Harrowing details of Saudi torture filed in US lawsuit  

July 30, 2021 at 2:33 pm

A man stands outside the Canadian Embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on August 7, 2018, one day after Saudi Arabia said it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its envoy while freezing all new trade, in retaliation for Ottawa’s vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists. [NASSER AL-HARBI/AFP via Getty Images]

Harrowing accounts of torture by Saudi officials were filed in a Canadian court recently in the ongoing case involving Riyadh’s former top intelligence officer, Saad Al-Jabri. The 63-year-old is locked in a bitter legal battle with the kingdom over alleged embezzlement and misappropriation of state funds, which he denies. He has also filed a lawsuit in the US where he alleges that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman made several attempts to assassinate him after he fled the kingdom due to concerns about his safety.

Al-Jabri fell out of favour in 2017, following the soft-coup which saw Bin Salman replace Mohammed Bin Nayef as crown prince. The former intelligence officer, who it’s said knows every secret there is to know about Saudi royals, left the kingdom and settled in Turkey before moving to Canada. Since Al-Jabri’s departure his children and members of his extended family are said to have been used as pawns in a high-stake feud that has drawn the attention of US President Joe Biden.

According to the latest account of torture set out in the court papers, Al-Jabri’s son-in-law, Salem Almuzaini, suffered horrific physical and phycological abuse while detained by Saudi officials. His account was sent via text message to the mobile phone of his wife Hissah Almuzaini. The chilling description of Salem’s ordeal are described as being reminiscent of memoirs of suffering by political prisoners in Iran, Chile, South Africa and the Soviet Union, who are known for torturing prisoners and government opposition.

Read: Saudi Arabia slammed for practicing ‘collective punishment’ against children of ex-official

Salem said he was whipped, starved, battered with iron bars and electrocuted; he also describes being ordered to crawl on all fours and bark like a dog.

“He said he had gone through many torture and interrogation sessions, and that the officers forced him to say and sign admissions to things about that were untrue, and to give them information about my father,” Hissah said according to the court filings. She claimed that her husband had been reluctant to tell her about his torture and interrogation in part because of the trauma of those memories.

Photos sent by Salem were also included in the court-filings and include one which shows discoloration of his ankle and foot where he was beaten. Stressing the horrific extent of the mistreatment, pictures of his battered and bruised body were taken three months after the torture according to his wife. She explained that injuries do not reflect the extent of the markings she saw on him when they first spoke by video call.

It’s claimed that at one point, Salem’s interrogator told him to reach into a box and choose a whip for his next beating; when he hesitated, the interrogator chose one and used it to lash Salem while urinating. Salem was instructed not to say his name, and instead refer to himself as “9”. At another point, he was ordered to eat his dinner off the floor, like a dog.

Read: Fresh details of torture emerge from Saudi prisons

“I was beset with worry on all sides,” Hissah recounts. “I worried for my mother, wife, children, sisters, uncle, companies, employees, my future, the pain in my body, the humiliation, and the fear. In reality, feelings cannot describe it. All I’ll say is that the injustice and repression of mankind were intense. I felt weak and powerless.”