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May 10, 2004

Meet Your Allies

Those nutty Saudis!:

Why did the Government of Saudi Arabia frame seven westerners for a series of car bombings they didn't commit?
Those car bombings, which began in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in November 2000, killed three members of the expatriate community and severely injured several others. To Western observers, they were clearly the work of Islamic fundamentalists.
But the Saudis were not about to admit that. So five Britons, a Canadian and a Belgian found themselves arrested, systematically tortured into false confessions and eventually convicted of those bombings.
Since the release of the men from a Saudi Arabian jail last summer, it's emerged that the Saudis were secretly using them as pawns in a bigger game - a game that for two of the men almost ended in a terrible death.
One of those men was Dr. William Sampson, a Canadian who now lives in England.
"It initially started with punchings and kickings, and that progressed from beating me on the soles of my feet to being hung upside down in a position known as the chicken -- with your feet uppermost and your feet and backside exposed, readily available for beating," says Sampson. "And between interrogation sessions, I was returned to the same cell and handcuffed to the door, so I couldn't sit down and I couldn't sleep."
He said that after being beating on the soles of his feet and chained to the door, he stood in agony: "There’s no way you can, I could even kneel down in that position, and so I'd be standing on my feet which were swollen, so badly swollen that they were actually exuding plasma through the skin."
How long did it take before he confessed? "On the night of the sixth day is when I started to confess, when I would, I couldn't take any more," says Sampson. "At that stage, I mean, I used to pray that, I would pray during the beatings that I would black out, and I never did. And by that stage, I was actually praying that I would just die."
"I was sentenced to something called Al-Had, which is the most extreme sanction, punishment, that they have and in that you're fixed to a wooden X, which is mounted in the ground, and you are partially beheaded," says Sampson.
So what do the Saudis say about the allegations of torture? Their ambassador in London was the head of Saudi intelligence at the time the men were arrested. After twice postponing an interview with 60 Minutes in the end, his Royal Highness Prince Turki al Faisal declined to talk with us.
But in a letter to a British newspaper, he denied that the men had been tortured into making false confessions. He says torture is illegal in his country and anyone doing it would be punished.

Hell, they were just blowing off some steam. Cut 'em some slack.

"Meet Your Allies"
Posted by Dan at 12:44 AM


Referenced in this post:

60 Minutes: Saudi Justice?