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confiscation of US passports in Saudi Arabia by American companies

Reader comment on item: The Scandal of U.S.-Saudi Relations

Submitted by Ed Bull (United States), Mar 31, 2006 at 00:47

I wanted to share some information with you concerning the confiscation of US citizens' passports by a US managed company in Saudi Arabia. I believe this is a very important issue. It violates the US citizen's human rights, it places US citizens at risk, and as a nation it sends the wrong signals to other nations struggling to fight for human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.

There is a large Virginia Company doing business in Saudi Arabia confiscating US passports and using the US passport as a negotiating tool to get the employee to sign a Release Agreement. The confiscation of a US passport by private industry is illegal. We have reached a sad state when a US company, run by US employers can use the US passport as a negotiating tool.

The confiscation of passports may seem an incidental incident but when it is used as an inhibitor and controlled device, with a large US vested company, in partnership with a Saudi company where the head of the Minister of Interior has a vested interest, where the joint venture is operated by a US General Manager, working on multi-million-dollar contracts from the Minister of Interior Organization, and US citizens working on non-employment visa for six months. With the present state of the Middle East, this becomes a situation where US citizens are at risk. The normal US citizen looking for employment is not aware of the environment they are about to enter.

I have been in contact with the US Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. US Embassy in Riyadh has stated in writing that the confiscation of US passports by private industry is backed by Saudi law. This is not true. Only a government official can confiscate a passport. A US General Manager in private industry cannot confiscate or hold a US citizen's passport. The US Embassy in Riyadh in my opinion furnished me no help.

My questions are:
What legal action can be taken against this Virginia Company to stop this practice?
What legal avenues are available for employee to recover their confiscated passports?

Thanks for your time and consideration in this matter
Ed Bull
Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

I do not know the legal remedies. Publicity is probably the best start, followed by contacting members of congress.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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