Rayed Ali, the Saudi student pilot deported from New Zealand on national security grounds, is reportedly in good condition in a Saudi Arabian prison, easing fears that he would be tortured.
Saudi authorities told his family a week ago they were holding Ali, and family members have been allowed to visit him. Ali’s United States-based brother told the Weekend Herald that Ali was “holding up”.
Family members reported that he seemed fine and “nothing bad” had happened to him. But the Saudi Government would not release him until its investigations were completed.
Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali told his family he had been escorted to Saudi Arabia and handed over by New Zealand police. The family, based in Mecca, had feared for Ali’s welfare since learning through news reports two weeks ago of his deportation.
After Weekend Herald inquiries, the NZ Government admitted to deporting Ali under section 72 of the Immigration Act, with no appeal.
Immigration Minister David Cunliffe cited Ali’s association with September 11 pilot Hani Hanjour, his activities in the US before September 11, 2001, and his activities here since arriving in February to study English.
What is publicly known about Ali’s time in New Zealand reveals nothing of national security concern and Mr Cunliffe has acknowledged Ali did not pose a terrorism threat.
Green Party MP Keith Locke said he remained concerned for Ali’s future.