Newspaper said “Washington Post“The American State is that panic spread among Saudi activists in Canada, after the disappearance of a dissident, who had been residing in Canada, for several weeks, and suddenly appeared in Saudi Arabia.
Activists fear that the defector may leak information about them and their families to the authorities in the kingdom.
The newspaper adds, in a report published on Saturday, which included interviews with Saudi activists and exiles, that Ahmed Abdullah Al-Harbi, 24, disappeared last month after visiting the Saudi embassy in Ottawa, but suddenly appeared three weeks later in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Fellow activists believe he has been forced back into the kingdom, and they fear he may have begun providing Saudi authorities with information that would put them and their families at risk.
Harbi, who arrived in Canada in 2019 and was granted asylum, has worked on several projects with other Saudi dissidents in Canada, according to colleagues.
These projects included participating in preparing an opposition talk show on the YouTube platform, and working with a network of volunteers on Twitter to confront the cyber armies believed to be behind the Saudi authorities, and their mission to attack social media users who criticize the government.
Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent Saudi dissident and longtime Canadian resident, says there are people who work with us who have aliases.
Abdul Aziz, who runs the talk show on YouTube and the opposition Twitter network, adds that the Saudi authorities “now know who they are, and they can know the exact details of these operations.”
Abdel Aziz and two other friends of Ahmed Abdullah Al-Harbi confirm in interviews with “The Washington Post” that Al-Harbi disappeared a few weeks ago, banned them on Snapchat, and left all the message groups shared with them.
Al-Harbi then called at least two friends, Omar Abdel Aziz and Omar Al-Zuhairi, and told them that he had gone to the Saudi embassy, where he was interrogated and pressured to reveal names and details of people in the activists’ network.
In a recording of one call obtained by The Washington Post, Harbi said that he was asked questions about Abdulaziz and his work, stressing that he felt that his family in Saudi Arabia was under hidden threats, describing his visit to the embassy in one sentence that read: “When you enter, you feel that you are Khashoggi.”
Al-Harbi told his colleague Abdulaziz that the embassy employees gave him a plane ticket to Saudi Arabia and took him to the airport, but he told his companions that he decided not to return to the kingdom and fled, then he disappeared for about three weeks.
On February 18, however, a new Al-Harbi account appeared on Twitter, with no comments about Saudi dissidents and detainees and Khashoggi missing, while the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman topped the account.
The wealthy kingdom has always faced international criticism over its human rights record, but it has increased since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed heir to the throne in June 2017.
Dozens of intellectuals, human rights activists, writers, clerics and princes have been arrested since 2017, as part of separate campaigns against charges related to corruption and dealing with external parties, including women activists.
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked an unprecedented storm of criticism targeting the kingdom’s human rights record.
Last August, the former Saudi intelligence official, Saad al-Jabri, who resides in Canada, filed a lawsuit before a federal court in Washington, accusing Prince Mohammed bin Salman of sending an assassination squad to Canada to kill him.
On Friday, a declassified US National Intelligence Office report said that “a conclusion was reached that bin Salman authorized an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to arrest or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
The report indicated that the crown prince has had “absolute control” over the kingdom’s intelligence and security services since 2017, “making it very unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out such an operation without the green light issued by the prince.”