Christian Arrested, Tortured in Saudi Arabia

Thursday, April 1, 2004

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (ANS) -- The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC), has just become aware 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 is presently being held at the Olaya police station in Riyadh.

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 is 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 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.

Note: ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US Church regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.