WASHINGTON — A Saudi Arabian diplomat is seeking political asylum in the United States because he is gay and befriended a Jewish woman, and fears for his life if he returns, NBC News reported Saturday.
The diplomat, which NBC identified as Ali Ahmad Asseri, the first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, reportedly told US federal officials that Saudi officials refused to renew his diplomatic passport and terminated his job after they discovered that he was gay and was close friends with a Jewish woman.
"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 told NBC in an email message.
Asseri posted a letter on a Saudi website criticizing his country's "backwardness" as well as the role of "militant imams" that have "defaced the tolerance of Islam," NBC said.
In the letter Asseri also threatened to make public embarrassing information on members of the Saudi royal family living in the United States, NBC said.
According to NBC, the last Saudi diplomat to seek asylum in the United States was Mohammed al-Khilewi, an official with the country's United Nations delegation, who sought protection in 1994 after publicly criticizing Saudi Arabia's human rights record and what he said was its support for terrorism.
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