Gay Saudi Diplomat Requests Asylum

Ali Ahmad Asseri, first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, has applied to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security for asylum as a member of "a particular social group" subject to persecution in his homeland. Asseri wrote, in an email to NBC,
My life is in a great danger here and if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight.
Asseri has been based at the Saudi embassy in Los Angeles for five years. He says that, in recent months, Saudi consulate employees who suspected that he is gay began to follow him to gay bars. They also discovered his close friendship with a Jewish woman from Israel. Subsequently, Asseri says, consulate officials began harassing him.

They have refused to renew his diplomatic passport, continue to monitor his private life, and have demanded he return to Saudi Arabia. Says Asseri
Words cannot express the anger I feel about how I have been treated.
Other gay Saudis have been granted asylum by the U.S., according to Ally Bolour, Asseri's lawyer. But Asseri's status as a diplomat — and recent statements he has made which have been critical of the Saudi royal family — give Asseri's case a political status unlike the others.

That criticism was made in a letter Asseri recently posted on a Saudi website, in which he also castigated the role of what he called "militant imams" who have "defaced the tolerance of Islam." I think it's safe to say that Asseri would not be well-received in his homeland.

Although the msnbc article suggests reasons why the U.S. government wishes to remain on good terms with the Saudi government, in combination with the asylum request, create "an especially awkward dilemma", I doubt that granting this man asylum would inhibit that relationship. The White House is currently seeking Congressional approval of the sale of $60 billion worth of warplanes to the Saudi government. Nothing brings governments together like military hardware.

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