Government stands by decision to deport Saudi dissident


THE BRITISH Prime Minister, Mr John Major, yesterday upheld his government's decision to deport dissident Mohamed Al-Mas'ari, whose Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights is banned in his native Saudi Arabia.

Mr Al-Mas'ari (49) has a week to appeal the deportation order, which the government acknowledges was issued under pressure from Riyadh and from British defence firms facing billions of dollars worth of losses in Saudi contracts.

Mr Major, in a BBC interview, described Mr Al-Mas'ari as "an illegal immigrant who has used his hospitality in this country to wage a campaign to try and bring down the Saudi Arabian regime

Meanwhile, in Riyadh the Saudi authorities threatened to strip Mr Al-Mas'ari of his nationality.

"If a Saudi opposes his country and his religion, he will be denied citizenship," the Defence Minister, Prince Sultan ibn Abdel Aziz, told reporters at a passing-out ceremony for air force pilots.

Last Wednesday the British government gave Mr Mas'ari 10 days to appeal a deportation order. He is being sent to Dominica in the Caribbean. Since his arrival in Britain 18 months ago he has waged a virulent opposition campaign.

Another dissident was stripped of his Saudi nationality in 1993 for allegedly financing Arab militant groups. AFP)