News About The Saudi Prince Canceling Visit
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                Saudi prince cancels visit Angry over 'meddling':
        PM defends right to ask questions about jailed Canadian

                    Francine Dubé, with files from Robert Fife National Post,
                    with files from wire services - June 1, 2001

                    Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has postponed an official trip to
                    Canada amid allegations that a Canadian prisoner was tortured in the
                    kingdom.

                    The Prime Minister's Office said the Prince did not offer a reason for
                    cancelling the visit. But Al-Riyadh, a government-controlled newspaper in
                    Saudi Arabia, quoted a senior spokesman as saying Prince Abdullah was
                    angry at Canadian media coverage of the Sampson affair and the reactions
                    of some Canadian officials.

                    Al-Riyadh said the spokesman criticized "meddling by some Canadian
                    officials and newspapers in the security measures taken by the kingdom." He
                    added: "This is an unacceptable interference in our sovereignty."

                    Jean Chrétien last night defended Canada's efforts to determine whether Bill
                    Sampson, the Canadian who has been held without charge in Saudi Arabia
                    since December, had been tortured, even though it caused Crown Prince
                    Abdullah to cancel his visit.

                    Mr. Sampson is being held in connection with two car bombs that killed a
                    Briton and injured five other people in November.

                    "We have asked questions and we tried to have as much information as
                    possible and if he is not coming, I'm sorry," the Prime Minister told reporters
                    in Winnipeg, where he was attending a Liberal fundraiser.

                    Mr. Chrétien insisted Canada had not meddled in the Sampson case and that
                    Canadian embassy officials in Saudi Arabia were simply doing their jobs in
                    seeking reliable information about Mr. Sampson's treatment.

                    Friends and relatives of Mr. Sampson said yesterday they are disappointed
                    the visit has been cancelled. They have alleged Mr. Sampson is being
                    tortured in prison, a charge denied by both the Saudis and Canadian
                    government officials who visited him on Monday.

                    "Of course I regret it but perhaps he didn't want to answer any embarrassing
                    questions, which I am sure the Canadian press would have been asking,"
                    said James Sampson, 70, Bill's father.

                    William Sampson, a cousin in Merseyside, England, said: "I feel that a world
                    statesman like the Crown Prince would have relished the opportunity to clear
                    the name of his homeland."

                    Mr. Sampson has been hospitalized three times, twice for angioplasties to
                    open blocked arteries and once for injuries his Saudi captors said he
                    sustained struggling with guards who stopped him from killing himself.

                    Prince Abdullah's trip to Canada was part of a tour by the Prince --
                    effectively the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state because of the declining health
                    of King Fahd -- that is to include Syria, Germany, Sweden and Morocco,
                    starting on June 5. His trip to Ottawa was to coincide with the opening of the
                    new Saudi embassy there.

                    John Manley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he was disappointed Prince
                    Abdullah cancelled, but he defended the right of Canadians to ask questions
                    about the treatment of Mr. Sampson.

                    "I think that given that the kind of reports that were out there, it was
                    legitimate that people ask questions. That's their right. This is a democracy,"
                    he said.

                    Keith Martin, a Canadian Alliance MP and deputy foreign affairs critic for the
                    official Opposition, said he was chagrined by the Crown Prince's decision.

                    "We have to deal with the Sampson issue. We must engage the Saudis in
                    dialogue. I'm very disappointed in the behaviour of the Saudi government
                    with respect to Mr. Sampson. And above all else, we ensure he's treated
                    fairly, that he's safe, and that he's going to get a fair trial," Mr. Martin said.

                    "I hope Mr. Sampson is brought back to Canada where he can stand trial
                    here, rather than stand trial in Saudi Arabia," he added.



                Furious Saudis scrap trip to Ottawa by Prince
                     JEFF SALLOT  Friday, June 1, 2001 - The Globe and Mail

                     OTTAWA -- Bristling with indignation at
                     what they say is Canadian meddling in their
                     internal legal affairs, Saudi Arabian officials
                     announced yesterday that Crown Prince
                     Abdullah is cancelling a visit to Ottawa next
                     week.

                     "False statements" by Canadian officials and
                     newspapers about the treatment of William
                     Sampson, a Canadian held in a Saudi jail, are
                     unacceptable interference in an internal
                     security matter, the royal palace officials said.

                     The announcement appeared in Al-Riyadh,
                     Saudi Arabia's authoritative daily newspaper.

                     The palace officials said in Al-Riyadh that the
                     cancellation "came as Canadian officials and
                     press were meddling in the legal and security
                     measures of the kingdom, which is
                     unacceptable."

                     The kingdom "rejects any interference in its
                     own affairs and considers the independence
                     of its security measures part of its national
                     sovereignty," Al-Riyadh said. "The Crown
                     Prince is very keen to preserve the respect of
                     the independence of his country [and] is very
                     dissatisfied and will cancel his visit to
                     Canada."

                     The trip was to be the first visit to Canada of
                     a Saudi crown prince, the country's most
                     important political figure.
                     Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy where
                     convicted criminals are flogged, mutilated and
                     often beheaded and where labour unions and
                     political parties are banned.

                     But human-rights groups say the Saudis
                     usually escapes condemnation by Canada and
                     other countries because it is a major trading
                     partner and oil producer.

                     Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley, who
                     said on Tuesday he was appalled at the way
                     the Saudis were handling Mr. Sampson's
                     case, softened his tone yesterday, saying the
                     federal government is disappointed -- but not
                     slighted -- that Prince Abdullah is not coming.
                     He also avoided any comment on the Saudi
                     human-rights record, which was excoriated in
                     an Amnesty International report this week.

                     Mr. Manley said Prince Abdullah wrote to
                     Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, explaining that
                     he is only postponing his visit. The Prince was
                     to preside at the opening of the new Saudi
                     embassy on Sussex Drive, near the Prime
                     Minister's residence.

                     Mr. Manley said the Prince will come some
                     other time. "We are glad Prince Abdullah still
                     wishes to visit Canada and we will be happy
                     to work with the Saudis to determine an
                     appropriate date."

                     The Foreign Affairs Minister also said the
                     Prince gave no reason for abruptly cancelling
                     the trip.

                     But there was little doubt that the
                     announcement is linked to the controversy
                     surrounding the case of Mr. Sampson, a
                     43-year-old contract worker from British
                     Columbia who has been denied access to
                     legal counsel while being held in custody since
                     December on suspicion of complicity in a fatal
                     bombing.

                     The Saudi paper states that Mr. Sampson
                     "was involved in a car bomb that resulted in
                     death" even though the Canadian has not been
                     brought to trial. If he is convicted, he could be
                     beheaded.

                     Mr. Manley said he had not read the Amnesty
                     International report, which said that last year
                     Saudi authorities executed 123 people,
                     punished 34 others by cutting off their hands
                     or feet, and in one case surgically removed a
                     man's eye.

                     Mr. Manley said Canada has protested
                     against Saudi Arabia's rights record at the
                     United Nations, but he would not reiterate
                     those remarks yesterday. What seems to have
                     most irked the Saudis was a report in the
                     National Post that a doctor had confirmed
                     Mr. Sampson was beaten in custody.

                     The doctor, hired by the Canadian embassy,
                     and Canadian diplomats who visited Mr.
                     Sampson in fact concluded he was probably
                     bruised as guards tried to restrain him from
                     taking his own life.

                     But Mr. Manley and opposition politicians
                     reacted swiftly and angrily to the beating
                     report.



                        Stay home, Prince
                                     Saturday, June 2, 2001 - The Globe and Mail

                     Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah is
                     mad at Canada. The Prince was to have
                     visited Ottawa this month to open the new
                     Saudi embassy, but when reports surfaced
                     here that a Canadian national, William
                     Sampson, had been tortured in a Saudi
                     prison, he took offence and cancelled the trip.
                     To which the only possible response is: good
                     riddance.

                     Prince Abdullah is the de facto leader of one
                     of the world's most undemocratic countries.
                     Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy run
                     principally for the benefit of the few thousand
                     members of the royal family, who manage to
                     consume an estimated 40 per cent of the
                     kingdom's handsome oil revenues.

                     Elections are unknown, as are political parties
                     and independent newspapers. Women cannot
                     drive a car, travel without male permission,
                     serve on the country's 90-member
                     consultative council or appear in public
                     without a flowing black cloak. Saudis who
                     try to oppose the government, even
                     peacefully, can expect arrest and indefinite
                     detention under the country's secretive
                     criminal procedures. Those actually convicted
                     of a crime may face flogging, the amputation
                     of a limb or execution by beheading in a
                     public square.

                     It is hardly surprising, then, that when Mr.
                     Sampson turned up injured in jail, his relatives
                     feared the worst. One of them suggested that
                     Mr. Sampson, who is being held on suspicion
                     of involvement in a bombing plot, had been
                     tortured.

                     That allegation seems to have been wrong. It
                     now turns out that Mr. Sampson may in fact
                     have been injured when guards tried to
                     prevent him from committing suicide. But
                     given the way the Saudis often treat
                     suspected criminals, the family cannot be
                     blamed for worrying. Nor can Canadian
                     officials be faulted for pursuing the Sampson
                     case.

                     Whatever Mr. Sampson may or may not have
                     done -- and he has yet to be tried on any
                     charge -- it is Canada's duty to make sure he
                     is not mistreated. To call Canada's
                     intervention "meddling" or "an unacceptable
                     interference in our sovereignty," as one Saudi
                     official did, is absurd. If Prince Abdullah
                     wants to take his ball and go home because of
                     a fuss in the Canadian papers about his jails,
                     so be it. He is not used to inconveniences like
                     a free press. But he shouldn't blame Canada.

                     His petulant cancellation is typical of the
                     Saudi style. Because of its oil wealth and its
                     strategic position on the Persian Gulf, Saudi
                     Arabia is used to getting a free pass on its
                     human-rights record. Feudal despots such as
                     the Prince and his royal relatives are
                     welcomed in Western capitals like old friends,
                     even if their hands are soaked with blood.
                     Before the Sampson issue got in the way,
                     Canada was quite prepared to roll out the red
                     carpet for the Prince, and after this little spat
                     is over it may well be ready to do so again.

                     That is a shame. By offering to play host to
                     the Prince and his ilk, Canada sends a
                     message of tacit approval for his regime and
                     its misdeeds. Welcoming dictators might have
                     been at least partly excusable in the days
                     when dictatorships and autocracies were the
                     norm in the world. But in these days of
                     spreading democracy and rising concern for
                     human rights, there is no reason why Canada
                     should act with such warmth toward a regime
                     so brutal and so cold.
 
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