2004 News Story

In September 2003 Saudi Ambassador to Canada denied Mr. William Sampson's allegations of torture following his release by royal clemency
The following news item was posted on September 11, 2003:

Ambassador to Canada Dr. Mohammad Ridha Al-Hussaini has denied media reports alleging that dual Canadian-British citizen Mr. William Sampson, who was convicted and imprisoned for crimes in the Kingdom, had been tortured.  Ambassador Al-Hussaini stressed that the Kingdom's laws forbid all forms of torture, and that Saudi Arabia is one of the signatories of international agreements banning racism, torture and inhumane and degrading punishments. He referred to the fact that Canadian officials have confirmed that previous reports of Sampson suffering torture in Saudi Arabia were incorrect. Moreover, the Canadian Ambassador to the Kingdom had reported Sampson telling consular officials that he had been well treated. Sampson's father, who visited him twice, reported the same. Ambassador Al-Hussaini pointed out that Sampson, who was recently pardoned and released, has health problems due to his addiction to smoking, that he was provided with medical help when he needed it, and that he underwent two successful heart operations in the Kingdom.

Statement by Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa, Dr. Mohammed R. Al-Hussaini on case of Canadian citizen William Sampson was posted on September 10, 2003:

Commenting on recent reports regarding the alleged torture of Westerners, including Canadian William Sampson, who also carries a British passport, who were all released recently after they were granted royal clemency, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa, Dr. Mohammed R. Al-Hussaini, said:

I am personally very pleased that Mr. William Sampson and the other Britons have been granted royal clemency and that they have joined their families. However, this does not mean that they are not guilty. I do not expect any one of those released to admit his guilt, or to say that he was living happily in detention.

I deny that Mr. Sampson was subjected to torture. On one occasion, Canadian officials themselves revealed that there was no truth to the stories that Mr. Sampson had been tortured or ill-treated. On January 30, 2002, a Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesman dismissed the allegations that Mr. Sampson was tortured as "unsubstantiated", adding that Mr. Sampson did not complain about his treatment.

On another occasion, the Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia stated to CBC News that Mr. Sampson told Canadian consular officials who met him on January 24, 2001, that he was treated well.

On April 30, 2001, this Embassy issued a first entry visa for Mr. James Sampson to visit his son William, whom he was able to meet twice during his short stay in Saudi Arabia. Mr. James Sampson reported that his son was in good health and that the Saudis were "very friendly".

Contrary to what Mr. William Sampson said in his interviews, his father has never complained of any mistreatment against him by the Saudi authorities during his five visits to Saudi Arabia, let alone that his life was threatened. In fact, at one point the life of the father of Mr. William Sampson was threatened by the violent actions of his son rather than by the Saudi authorities.

Upon the request of the Canadian Government, the Saudi Government allowed a Canadian medical doctor from Ontario together with a Saudi doctor to visit Mr. Sampson in detention. They were able to see him on November 4, 2001. The findings of the medical report revealed that Mr. Sampson was stable, physically and mentally sound, and, thus, he was capable of taking decisions and assuming responsibility for his actions.

Also, Mr. Sampson refused to be with any other detainee in the same room; so, upon his request, he was put by himself in a room large enough for ten people, provided with all amenities of comfort.

In his own handwriting, Mr. Sampson has renounced his Canadian citizenship.

It is also worthwhile to note the following facts with regards to Mr. Sampson's treatment:

• Mr. Sampson had two successful heart surgeries in the best hospitals of Saudi Arabia and he was provided with medical attention as much as needed. His heart problems had nothing to do with the condition of the prison. Mr. Sampson is a heavy smoker and had heart problems and was on medications before his detention.

• On July 16, 2001, the Embassy informed the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade that it was possible for Mr. James Sampson to visit his son at any time he wished, in spite of his strong criticism of the Kingdom's judicial system.

• Upon Mr. Sampson's request during the psychiatrist's visit, he was offered three special meals of pizza and hamburgers three times a week, but he refused the special meals.

• Minister Don Boudria, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who was on an official visit to Saudi Arabia from the 2nd to the 8th of September, 2002, was able, together with then Canadian Ambassador to Riyadh Mr. Melvyn McDonald, to meet Mr. William Sampson on Friday September 6, 2002. Although Mr. Sampson refused to meet any Embassy officials including his family members, the Saudi authorities made it possible for the Minister and the Ambassador to see Mr. Sampson by transferring him from his detention to a hospital for regular medical tests so that they could see him and talk to him without any violent reaction from Mr. Sampson.

• The laws in Saudi Arabia prohibit torture in all its forms. The Kingdom is a signatory to the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and the Convention against torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

• Allegations of Mr. Sampson being tortured have not been proven. On the contrary, he was given full medical attention and access to legal representation, to his father and Canadian Government and Consular Officials in Riyadh, as well as to Canadian Parliamentarians.

• All of these facilitations granted to Mr. Sampson negate any insinuations that he was mistreated or tortured.

Finally, we should appreciate the release of Mr. William Sampson by royal clemency and look forward to strengthening the good existing relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia. There are more than 8,000 Canadians working happily in Saudi Arabia, and the number of Canadians willing to go to Saudi Arabia is steadily increasing. There are more than 863 Saudi doctors training and studying in Canada, and more than 2,500 doctors presently applying to join the different Canadian universities in the coming year.

More on the story:

Interior minister comments on Canadian situation June 6, 2001

Interior minister announces outcome of bombing investigation  January  5, 2001