Last updated on December 22nd, 2018
Nathalie Morin Quebecker, who has been unjustly detained in Saudi Arabia, last contacted her family on October 27. In her last sign of life, she warned that her communications were being closely monitored by the Saudi government.
She described “the new telecommunications regime” launched by Saudi, wherein all telephonic exchanges, social media activities and e-mail accounts would be recorded by the government.
Its been 53 days since Nathalie Morin’s mother, Johanne Durocher, heard from her. Ms Durocher has urged the Canadian government to intervene and restore communication with her daughter.
Since 2005, French-Canadian citizen Nathalie Morin has been forcibly held captive in Saudi Arabia by her husband, Saeed Al Shahrani, and the Saudi government. As claimed by Morin, she and her four children are physically and mentally tortured. She has also stated that she “has no friend[s]” in Saudi Arabia and detained because of her foreign roots.
Telephone calls made to her husband, Saeed Al-Shahrani, have gone unanswered and emails to his various addresses have all bounced.
Moreover, Nathalie Morin’s activities on her Twitter and Facebook accounts are stagnant. Her family is now even more concerned about her well-being.
“We do not know if the order to cut off any contact with the outside world comes from her husband, or the Saudi government,” said Johanne Durocher in a statement to the Support Committee.
Last August, Nathalie Morin published a piteous video on Facebook, accusing Saudi Arabia for voiding her legal existence in the Kingdom, since her husband confiscated her identity cards in March 2015.
“I do not even have any proof that I am the mother of my children,” she said.
Abandoned by her husband, Nathalie Morin was deprived of medical services. She was compelled to call on the charity groups to feed her children.
In August 2017, Johanne Durocher received an email from her oldest grandchild, Sameer, 16 years old. “Hello grandmother, we have big problems with governments, so because of governments, I will never see you again, but I will not forget you,” he wrote. In the end he said: “Goodbye forever.”
Earlier, when Johanne Durocher was unable to contact her daughter, the Canadian officials reached out the Saudi authorities to pressure her husband. “That’s how he ended up agreeing to send his children to school, for example,” Johanne Durocher recalled.
As the case turned sensitive, Quebec’s National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution in 2008, asking the federal government to get her returned.
But currently, as diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Riyadh have deteriorated, all communication channels seem to be closed.
The Saudi-Canada spat started in August, when Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland slammed Saudi Arabia for arresting several women’s rights activists. In response, Riyadh declared the Canadian ambassador “persona non grata” and froze all trade relations with Canada.
Recently, when Saudi Arabia assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Embassy in Istanbul, Canada announced its plans to cancel the sale of armored tanks to the Kingdom.
This deceleration added to the apprehension of Johanne Durocher. “Saudi Arabia may not be in a good mood, and we know what they do when they are not in a good mood,” she said, worrying that her daughter will become the victim of a diplomatic crisis.
“The Montreal office of Amnesty International finds the situation very disturbing,” Campaign Manager Colette Lelièvre said. “It will be necessary for the government to make every effort to ensure that Nathalie and her children are safe,” he added.
Morin reached out media organizations in North America urging Ottawa to negotiate on her behalf.
“We are ready to travel to Canada together, but the government of Saudi Arabia has refused to give passports to our children,” she wrote in the email.
According to Morin, Saudi Arabia has put her three children on a national blacklist since 2009.
Nathalie Morin also claimed that her husband worked for Saudi’s National Security department from 1995 to 2008. However, since September 2008 he had been officially off-duties, with permission from Saudi government to retain his real identity.
Until May 6, 2013, he did several hidden jobs in different sectors. But on May 6, 2013, the Saudi government blocked all his income sources. Even the charitable societies within the Kingdom refused to help the family.
In spite of the media pressure, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs has not reported any significant progress in the case. “This is a complex family matter with no easy solution,” the department said. “We are limited by the laws of Saudi Arabia.”