Fear of Extradition for Saudi Blogger Facing Possible Execution
Hamza Kashgari is under threat. The blogger and journalist fled to Malaysia from Saudi Arabia on February 8 after tweets he wrote about the Prophet Mohammed provoked clerics to demand he be tried for apostasy and members of the public to call for his murder. After arriving in Malaysia on his way to a third country, however, he was arrested by security officials at Kuala Lumpur airport, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Kashgari is currently under threat of extradition to Saudi Arabia. The Guardian has reported Malaysian sources as stating that the request for extradition came from Interpol, a charge that Interpol denies.
Kashgari was a columnist for Jeddah-based daily Al Bilad until last week when, following public outrage over the tweets, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja gave orders that Kashgari "not write in any Saudi paper or magazine." Ironically, Khoja also tweeted the order. Although Kashgari retracted his statements, deleted his Twitter account, and apologized for the comments, threats to his life continued unabated, with his home address posted online and a monetary reward offered to his killers.
As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Malaysian government has committed to upholding the highest standards of human rights. Extraditing Mr. Kashgari to Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly result in his death and is therefore constitutes a serious violation of Malaysia’s commitments to the international community. Though Kashgari's ideas may offend some of his fellow citizens, they are protected speech under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
EFF urges the government of Malaysia to release Hamza Kashgari immediately and ensure that his extradition to Saudi Arabia is prevented.