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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06RIYADH7097 2006-09-10 11:29:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Riyadh
Cable title:  

SAUDI REACTION TO SENTENCING OF HOMAIDAN AL-TURKI

Tags:   AORC ELAB FBI KCRM PGOV PHUM PREL PTER SA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO6071
OO RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHRH #7097/01 2531129
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 101129Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1350
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 7695
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY 0109
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 007097 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARPI (BSHUKAN, RJACHIM, SWALKER), DRL/NESCA
(OZKAN), INL/HSTC, G/TIP (PATEL, TAYLOR)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2016
TAGS: AORC ELAB FBI KCRM PGOV PHUM PREL PTER SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI REACTION TO SENTENCING OF HOMAIDAN AL-TURKI

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Gfoeller for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (S/NF) The August 31, 2006, sentencing by a Colorado
court of Homaidan Al-Turki to 28 years to life imprisonment
for sexually assaulting his Indonesian maid has provoked
calls for a boycott of U.S. products and the return of Saudis
studying in the U.S. Some Saudi contacts even fear that this
anger could encourage acts against Americans both inside and
outside the U.S., including terrorist actions. Saudis in the
U.S. and in the KSA agree with Homaidan's claim that he
received an unfair trial that focused on his religion and
reflected U.S. prejudice against Saudis, Arabs, and Muslims
in general. The press reports that even SAG officials have
called the sentence imposed on Homaidan "harsh" and vowed to
take the case to the "highest levels," presumably to reduce
the punishment. However, there has been little, if any
attention on the victim. Resentment of the U.S. could
increase when Homaidan faces a federal trial in October or if
his appeal of the August 31 sentence is unsuccessful. END
SUMMARY.



--------------------------


BACKGROUND


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Homaidan Al-Turki and his wife Sarah Khonaizan were
arrested in November 2004 and then again in 2006, first for
immigration violations, then for mistreatment of their
illiterate 24 year-old, Muslim Indonesian maid. Homaidan was
also charged with sexually assaulting the maid. On August
31, Homaidan was sentenced to 28 years to life imprisonment
by the Arapahoe County (Colorado) District Court after being
convicted of three felonies and three misdemeanors. It is
reported that he is appealing this conviction. Sarah pleaded
guilty to federal immigration charges and a Colorado state
charge of theft for which she was sentenced to home
confinement, 48 hours of community service, five years
probation, and two months in jail. According to press
reports, she is expected to be deported to Saudi Arabia
before the end of September 2006 upon completion of her jail
time.



--------------------------


SAUDI REACTIONS


--------------------------





3. (C) In general, there have been two types of reactions by
Saudis both inside the KSA and in the U.S.: religious
hard-liners are calling for a boycott of U.S. products, the
return of Saudi students currently studying in the U.S., and
the cessation of future scholarships to the U.S. Moderates
and liberals are citing the treatment of Homaidan Al-Turki as
an isolated case that calls for increased communication and
understanding on all sides. Very few Saudis believe that
Homaidan Al-Turki sexually assaulted, much less raped, his
Indonesian maid. Instead, they tend to agree with the claim
by one of Homaidan's defense attorneys that the FBI induced
the Indonesian maid to charge Homaidan with sexual assault
and rape. Saudis believe that the FBI's motive in doing this
was because it had been unsuccessful in charging Homaidan
with terrorism.



4. (C) On September 5, PolOff met with Khaled M. bin Taleb,
who claimed to be a longtime, close friend of Homaidan.
Taleb categorically refused to believe that Homaidan had
sexually assaulted or raped the Indonesian maid because he
knows Homaidan as a "devout and good person" who could "never
sexually assault anyone." He said that he personally knows,
and that it is widely known by many Saudis in the U.S. and in
the KSA, that Homaidan is a "good Muslim" who helps the
unfortunate and needy. Taleb said that he had last met
Homaidan in person in 2003 at Homaidan's house in
Springfield, Virginia. Taleb said that "even if King
Abdullah swore that Homaidan had sexually assaulted this

RIYADH 00007097 002 OF 002


Indonesian maid, no one would believe it." Taleb stated that
because it is simply inconceivable that a person like
Homaidan could have committed sexual assault, many Saudis now
feel that no Saudi is safe from the USG. However, Taleb did
believe that Homaidan and his wife Sarah had mistreated the
maid by keeping her passport, failing to renew her passport
and visa, not paying her salary, and perhaps beating her and
restricting her freedom of movement. (NOTE: Such treatment of
foreign domestic workers, as well as the lack of legal
protections, continues to be problematic in the Kingdom and
is highlighted in our annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
END NOTE.)



5. (S/NF) Taleb claimed that many Saudis know Homaidan and
are very disappointed by how the USG treated him. He said
that Saudis like Americans as people and U.S. culture, but
have turned against the current Administration because of the
treatment of Arabs and Muslims following September 11 --
especially Saudis studying and working in the U.S. -- the
perception that the USG unconditionally supports the
Government of Israel, the invasion of Iraq, and USG actions
against the Palestinians and Lebanon. While Taleb said that
many Saudis are counting on the conviction being overturned
on appeal, he expressed concern that, if this conviction
stands, animosity toward the USG could be inflamed to the
point of acts of violence, even terrorism, in the U.S. or
against Americans in the KSA or elsewhere.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





6. (C) The Al-Turki case represents the latest cause celebre
for radical Saudis claiming USG persecution of Muslims.
Unfortunately, it appears that they have achieved some
success in undermining efforts by the SAG and USG to bridge
cultural differences and build mutual understanding.
Al-Turki's friends, family, and colleagues are rallying
around him, insisting that it is completely implausible that
he could have committed such heinous acts -- despite his
conviction in a court of law. At the same time, this case
shows just how far the Saudis still have to go when it comes
to issues relating to trafficking in persons and the
treatment of foreign domestic workers. Even the general
Saudi public, which does not know Homaidan personally,
believes that the USG has mistreated him. There has been
little, if any, focus on the victim, who is a "non-person" at
the bottom of the Saudi hierarchy. One must wonder how
different the general attitude toward Homaidan and his
prosecution would be if the victim had been a Saudi woman
instead of one of the "other women" who do not enjoy the
protections afforded by the tribal/clan structure. END
COMMENT.
OBERWETTER