A Saudi man who strayed over the Israeli border from Egypt whilst hiking, has returned home after six years in an Israeli jail. The Saudi national was first deported to the U.S. before he could return home.
Abdul Rahman Al-Atwi, 40, has finally returned home to Saudi Arabia following his illegal detention in an Israeli jail for six years. Due to a lack of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Al-Atwi was first deported to the U.S. from where he made his way home.
During a hiking trip in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in 2005, Al-Atwi, an avid outdoors-man, inadvertently strayed over the international boundary between Egypt and Israel. Arrested by an Israeli border guard, he was sentenced to three months in jail for the illegal crossing. A1 Saudi Arabia reported that after he had completed his sentence he was held illegally as the lack of diplomatic relations between the Muslim Kingdom and Israel prevented his repatriation.
State prosecutors demanded he be held in jail until arrangements could be made for his repatriation, even though his sentence had been served. Efforts to find an intermediary country to deport Al-Atwi to failed, with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Finland and Sweden declining to become involved.
Arab News reported that during his illegal detention Al-Atwi went on three hunger strikes ranging from 70 to 90 days. Finally, following the intervention of human rights organizations and the Red Cross Al-Atwi was released on Nov. 15 2011 and deported to the U.S. His lawyer Katib Al-Shammari said his release marked "an end to this illegal detention and to the inhuman treatment and practices he faced in an entity that claims to follow democracy and holds out respect for human rights.”
According to Alarabiya Al-Atwi returned to Riyadh on Thursday. His homecoming was facilitated by Saudi authorities. Arriving in the Kingdom Al-Atwi reportedly “did not say a word."