Australia: Saudi journalists outed as gay and detained for seeking asylum

UPDATED 17.12.2020 Two Saudi journalists fled Saudi Arabia in September after fearing for their lives after the government made their same-sex relationship public. Both men are now in Australia, where the Australian government has detained them for seeking asylum. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) urge the Australian Government to release the two Saudi reporters.

Barbed wire fence.

The men arrived in Australia last month after fleeing Saudi Arabia when the government made their relationship public. Following the outing, they received death threats and were interrogated by Saudi officials. Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. In Australia the two men arrived on valid tourist visas, where they were singled out as people seeking asylum and taken to a detention centre. Their names cannot be made public for legal and security reasons.

The Saudi regime has recently come under scrutiny following the murder and cover-up of former Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Speaking to The Guardian, one of the men said: “We ran away from being detained arbitrarily and jailed for  no reason, only to arrive in Australia and find ourselves here in jail.”

MEAA urgesthe intervention of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in the immigration of two Saudi Arabian journalists who are seeking asylum. MEAA has written to the minister noting that the pair fear persecution in Saudi Arabia after they received death threats following interrogation by Saudi authorities.”

The IFJ said: “We firmly oppose the detainment of the two Saudi journalists who are seeking refuge in Australia and criticise the unnecessary use of force by the Australian government. The journalists irrefutably have valid reasons to fear for their lives. Australia must immediately recognise the dangers the two men faced in Saudi Arabia due to their relationship and employment as a journalist. Denying them asylum will be detrimental to the safety of the two journalists."

One of the journalists was released on 13 December and the other on 17 December,  The two men have  been granted bridging visas while their cases are being checked for asylum.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram