The Saudi Gazette
TWO separate groups of Saudi students were detained at Philadelphia and New York airports by US Immigration Authorities for violating copyright laws, reported the Arabic language daily newspaper Okaz Thursday.
The students were found to be carrying pirated software in their laptops. The Saudi students, who arrived in the US, said some of their colleagues were detained at New York airport for 48 hours. They said the US immigration authorities scanned all the contents and programs stored in the laptops by incoming Saudi students.
A Saudi students association in the US has warned the incoming Saudis against carrying any pirated programs or anything referring to extremist groups anywhere in the world in their laptops.
The association confirmed the US authorities are questioning some Saudi students while others have been deported.
It also mentioned that some students are being tried. The penalty for copyright law violation ranges between 5-20 years in prison, and the luckiest ones get deported.
In September last year, King Abdullah, who is also the chairman of the Higher Education Council, approved a program to allocate 15,000 scholarships for study in the US.
The number of Saudi students studying in the United States dropped from more than 4,000 in 2001 to a low of just 1,008 in 2004, based on a State Department count of new education visas.
The total number of Saudis visiting the United States fell from 46,636 to about 12,000 over the same period.
Meanwhile, the appeal submitted by the family of the Saudi student Homaidan Al-Turki, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison for maltreating his maid and violating the American immigration law, will be seen by the court only after a passage of nine months, reported Okaz.
Al-Turki, 37, said that US authorities were persecuting him for “traditional Muslim behaviors.”
He blamed anti-Muslim prejudice for his conviction and the severity of the sentence. He claimed that the prosecutors persuaded the maid to accuse him after they failed to build a case against him as a terrorist.
The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has urged the US Department of Justice to protect the rights of Humaidan Al-Turki.
In a letter addressed to the office of the inspector general, NSHR Chairman Dr. Bander Hajar drew the attention of the authorities concerned to Turki’s complaint that he was mistreated by the Arapahoe prison authority, was forced to shave his beard, stripped naked and deprived of his diabetic meal.
“If true, these acts represent a violation of his personal and religious rights protected by American Constitution as well as international declarations of treaties that the US is part of,” Hajar said.
“Article (5) of the UN declaration of human rights prohibits torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, these acts go against the UN basic principles for the treatment of prisoners,” the letter said.
Humaidan wrote to his wife from the prison, “When I was been moved from Arapahoe Prison, I was put under extensive guard. Streets were blocked and there were about six trucks, there were many machine guns and one was directed at me, I didn’t care a fig about it, though! Then we arrived at the prison and there all my clothes were taken off; they frisked me while I was naked even my private parts were exposed. I was shackled and I performed the noon prayer while on shackles! My beard was shaved afterwards and I begged them not to but they said security necessitates they shave my beard! Anyhow, I didn’t get upset, nor did I shout, for they were after pissing me off.
I’m now writing this letter to you from my room, I’m waiting for my diabetes meal, my diabetes is deteriorating because they keep me locked up for 23 hours, they let me go out only for one hour.”