Troubled Saudi refugee alive but unwell – family

Troubled Saudi refugee alive but unwell – family

t was revealed last year Khalid Alzahrani, also known as Daniel, had abandoned his flat in Redwood, Christchurch, without telling his friends and flown to Saudi Arabia on July 31.

He had previously been granted refugee status as a Christian convert and feared reprisals if he returned to his birthplace. Christian converts can face imprisonment or death in Saudi Arabia for the “crime” of apostasy.

Following Alzahrani’s sudden departure, friends feared Saudi agents had forcibly removed him from the country because of his religious beliefs.

Police investigated the case as a possible kidnapping, but found no evidence that was the case.

They have been unable to establish exactly why the refugee returned to Saudi Arabia, but there is a suggestion he was deceived by his family.

Detective John Swain said Alzahrani had been cut off from his three children (two sons and a daughter) in Saudi Arabia, his health was deteriorating, he didn’t have a job and was struggling to pay rent for the one- bedroom flat where he lived.

Evidence suggested he had left the country voluntarily, Swain said. A photo on police’s case file shows Alzahrani pictured alongside his brother shortly after returning to Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Saudi Ambassador Ahmed Al-Johani said the Saudi embassy had arranged Alzahrani’s flight to Saudi Arabia after he insisted that he needed to go home and see his mother.

Al-Johani did not respond to a series of questions emailed to him in the last fortnight.

Labour MP Phil Goff said the Government had a moral obligation to help Alzahrani.

According to the police file, Fahd Alzahrani travelled New Zealand early last year. It is unclear why he visited, but Swain believed he may have been trying to convince his brother to return home.

In a letter written in 2012, Khalid Alzahrani said his brother had threatened to withdrawn financial support and inform authorities if he did not return home.

Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald said last week that police had been unable to contact Khalid Alzahrani or his family.