Christian Arrested, Tortured in Saudi Arabia

Thursday, April 8, 2004

He has now received a visit from friends

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
April 8, 2004

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (ANS) -- The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC), has released information that on Thursday, March 25th, 2004, Mr. Brian O'Connor, a Christian ex-pat Indian national, was arrested by the Muttawa (religious police) on the streets of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. ICC is being told from a highly reputable source that the Muttawa abducted, imprisoned, and tortured him in a Mosque. Mr. O’Connor was, at the time of the ICC news release, being held at the Olaya police station in Riyadh.

According to ICC, Mr. O’Connor has received visitors and has communicated that his legs were chained and he was hung upside down and “they played football with me.” “The Muttawa came in turns of fours and kicked me in the chest and rib area, and this continued up to 2 AM on Friday morning. He also says that he was whipped on his back and the soles of his feet by electrical wires and is in much pain as he walks. He also reports that he is in intense pain, and thinks that a rib may be broken.

The police at the Olaya police station state that he was being held on account of preaching Christianity, drug related charges, and for selling liquor. They went on to add that these charges were brought up by the Muttawa, and they have no direct proof of the claims made by them. It is typical for charges of drug dealing to be leveled at Christians suspected of spreading the Gospel. The Police also stated that the Muttawa were the ones who interrogated him and not the Police themselves. The Muttawas have informed Brian that he is to be formally charged on these 3 points and will be taken to court where the case would take about 6 to 7 months before a verdict is issued.

Brian O’Connor is known to be an upstanding citizen in the community and is a Christian. It is not known yet if the Muttawa have forced him to sign documents of admission to the crimes he is charged with. It has been common practice in Saudi that during torture, the Muttawas force Christians to sign documents in Arabic, which they were told are release papers. Later, they find out that they signed documents admitting to crimes of drug trafficking, etc…

ICC that that it is very concerned that the Saudi’s, who claim to be the United States’ partners in the war on terror, have continued to imprison, torture and deport expatriate Christians workers in Saudi Arabia. We are asking that the United States take serious action in demanding not only the release of Brian, but a formal apology be made, and the immediate reinstatement to his position with Saudi Airlines. We are also very concerned about his present physical condition and are asking for an immediate report on his health, confirmed by a doctor.

Now, ANS has received a message from a close friend of Mr. O’Connor in which he said, “A few of us did visit him on April 6th. He is now shifted from the Olaya Police station and on Saturday, April 3rd, was transferred to Al Hair Jail, in the outskirts of Riyadh City.”

The friend then added, “Four of us made the visit to the Al Hair Jail, in the outskirts of the city. Having lost our way and being unfamiliar with the normal jail procedures, this further delayed our meeting with him which may have lasted only about half an hour.

“We carried a blanket, bed sheet and a pillow along with some homely food. The enlisted items were rejected by the authorities. They asked us to bring the beddings in the morning hours at around 9 AM. And it must be given to the Capitan in Charge who would make necessary arrangements for the items to reach him inside his cell.

“We were again refused entry into the jail for not having known the Cell number of Mr. O’Connor, which we were supposed to know before hand. We were scanned and our belts, ties, purses and shoes etc were left outside the jail premises as per their mandatory regulations.

“A slip provided by the authorities was produced to a particular section and Connor was intimated to come to the visitor’s gallery to see his visitors. We were separated by two wire mesh walls, which were ½ a meter apart.

“Mr. O’Connor this time was found not shaven (and a much needed haircut) and did look tired, but with a smile on his face. Each of us took turns and at will did ask him questions non-stop for which he answered.”

He said that below are some of the answers that he provided to their questions

* Each cell contains 14 inmates, but does not have sufficient sleeping place. He spent the Monday night on the floor. Hence his request for a blanket and sheet. He however said for security reasons the pillows may not be allowed. The cells are located on either side of a long passage. There is no restriction in moving about and visiting other cells or cellmates. The only restriction applied is during the (Prayer timings) the (non-Muslim) inmates are expected to remain in their cell and not encouraged to move about. Would like to also mention, that none of the inmates are chained or handcuffed.

* The food is the same menu (twice a day only) which is served as lunch and dinner. Connor restricts himself to the dinner only (voluntarily goes on a day time fast) and keeps to himself in other timings …..Just being in touch with his “Heavenly Father”.

* The Laundry services he says are provided free every week.

* He is yet to be taken to a court and he has not been tried yet. Has no idea when he would be produced to a court. But did say that he may have to appear in court for a hearing.

* The Muttawas have already produced 'their proof' against him, this information was given to us by Brian O’Connor himself. The Muttawas have produced a bottle containing some liquid. This ‘piece of evidence’ was seen by Connor himself, when the Police asked him (in Olaya Police station) whether Connor knows anything about the content of the bottle. Connor clearly replied that he has nothing to do with the stuff and its false evidence brought forward by the Muttawas themselves.

* Brian says that the cops work hand in hand with some 'senior cell in-mates'. Some of them have asked him to admit 'his guilt' and not to go against the 'evidences' and the Muttawas report. For which he may get a term not more than 3 to 5 months and may / may not have to take the whip lashes along with the jail term as per the 'sentence' delivered by the court.

* While if he decides to go against the case and wants to challenge his case it may drag on for up to 9 months and beyond.

* Inquired with us about whether his father (India) has been informed. For which we replied in the negative. However his brother Robin, had called him. In Brian O’Connor’s words Connor was Robin’s favorite brother

* Expressed his concern again about his certificates. The cops have informed him that whatever is taken by the Muttawas is as good as gone for ever. They did take every certificate that he had.

* The Indian Embassy officials visited him (Olaya Police Station) and said to him not to worry, that the jail term will last 3 months and he will be released, following the completion of this term and could finally get to go home.

* With reference to the treatment he received at that eventful day. He had specified further on the events.

* The Muttawas had taken him to the Muttawas Office adjacent to the Mosque (located behind his residence), where they carried out their ‘sentence’.

* There was a tall Muttawa who had chained his legs and held up the chain, he held the chain against the wall (Connor was held upside down). While the other Muttawas took turn in batches to kick his chest and ribs. At times there were up to a maximum of 6 Muttawas hitting him at the same time. They were further irrigated as they found Connor “Praising God in tongues”. Hence they used to come back after a brief session, as they just needed to ‘silence’ him. This tall Muttawa used to hold him up so high that he could not touch the floor with his hands at certain times; but, this helped him in some way to defend the blows that were coming. While at certain times he lowered the chain, for which Connor had no other option but to put his hands on the floor, which provided the other Muttawas to strike a clean blow on Brian’s body as he was totally defenseless.

* They had asked him to sit in front of the tapes and CD’s they had ‘confiscated’ and asked him to pick up the copy of ‘John the Baptist’ & ‘the Passion of the Christ’ (Brian did not have either of them). When he replied that he hadn’t a copy and went on to add that ‘It’s written in the Bible that John the Baptist is the Last Prophet’. This further irritated them and they landed blows on his back with their elbows and kicked him further. They also used the VHS cable to whip him on his back and legs.

* After each ‘beating session’ Brian states that God did give him strength to recover fast and he just kept praising God. This triggered the next ‘session’ immediately.”

The contact concluded by saying, “Brian said as we prepared to leave, ‘Whatever you do, see that HE MUST INCREASE, and I MUST DECREASE.”