The deportation to Saudi Arabia of Hani Sayegh, who is alleged to have been involved in the Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen, raises human rights concerns ["Barracks Bombing Suspect Is Deported," news story, Oct. 12]. It is a violation of international law to deport a person to a country in which he is likely to be tortured. Saudi Arabia has a long history of using torture in interrogations.

U.S. Justice Department officials have received assurances from the Saudis that torture will not be employed, as well as a promise to allow U.S. officials access to Mr. Sayegh to verify that fact. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef ibn Abdelaziz has informed the media that ample evidence is already in hand to try Mr. Sayegh. Thus, presumably, no torture will be deemed necessary.

But no guarantees have been sought and none given that Mr. Sayegh will receive a fair trial in keeping with internationally recognized standards. Saudi trials, particularly those of political dissidents, are held in secret. The right to a defense lawyer, the right to a presumption of innocence and the right to a meaningful process of appeals often are denied.

In April 1996, four Saudi Arabian nationals were displayed on Saudi television confessing to the bombing of a Saudi Arabian National Guard training center. The interior minister announced that they were to be tried for this crime, yet within 40 days all four had been beheaded. Such secrecy and swiftness do not inspire confidence, especially because the Saudi authorities most likely will pursue a death sentence in the Sayegh case.


Saudi Arabia Coordinator

Amnesty International USA

Austin, Tex.