Extradition of Al-Asnj [Archives:2005/886/Front Page]

October 17 2005

Sana'a – Oct 16 – Yemen has asked Saudi Arabia to extradite ex-foreign minister, Abdullah Abdulmajid Al-Asnj, who sought refuge in the kingdom after forming an opposition movement in the late seventies.

According to the web site of the pro-government newspaper September 26, official memorandums from the interior and foreign ministries were delivered to the Saudi authorities, encouraging them to honor their “brotherly ties, cooperation and good neighborly relations” in the interest of regional security and stability. In addition was the demand of the extradition of Al-Asnj, since he “is carrying out activities hostile to Yemen, aimed at harming the country by undermining its relations with Saudi Arabia”. Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said to the medias, “We have based over request of the extradition of Al-Asnj to the kingdom on the agreement between the two countries, which prohibits both states the allowance of any political or media activity against the other. Al-Asnj was a refugee in Saudi Arabia and was not active politically, but lately he has announced that he would form an opposition group abroad, and this is against the agreement between Sana'a and Riyadh”.

Yemeni ambassador in Riyadh, Khald Alakwaa, said to a Saudi newspaper that he has no information about the Al-Asnj extradition, since the kingdom does not allow any subversive activities.

Yemeni Human Rights Organization in Britain (YHRO) rejected this extradition, saying that this Yemeni attitude was because of the last statements of Al-Asnj in which he criticized the political and the economic settings in Yemen and said that he intended to form an opposition group outside Yemen. The organization considered the extradition as a violation on of the principle of free expression, according to proper political manners.

The organization appealed to the Saudi Arabia authorities to protect Al-Asnj and not to response to the Yemeni request that is against the international standers of human rights. The organization also urged Arab and international human rights organizations and all political parties in Yemen to condemn the request.

The accusation came after Al-Asnj's announcement of launching an opposition TV channel that was scheduled to start on September 14. He got some Saudi parties to support launching this channel from London.

Al-Asnj was sentenced to death in Yemen in the 1980's for committing what the government called “high treason”. Later he was granted a presidential pardon and left Yemen.