Saudi man’s lawyers consider new legal challenge

Homaidan al-Turki was convicted in 2006 of unlawful sexual contact by use of force

Published: Updated:

A lawyer for a Saudi man convicted of sexual abuse and false imprisonment in Colorado said Friday his legal team was considering a new legal challenge after a judge denied his previous request to be released and sent home.

Denver attorney John Portman, who represents Homaidan al-Turki, said another challenge might be based on court rules that allow people whose appeals have been denied to contest convictions on several grounds, including newly discovered evidence.

Portman declined to say what grounds were being considered and when a challenge might be filed.

Al-Turki, a linguist who was living and working in Colorado, was convicted in 2006 of unlawful sexual contact by use of force, false imprisonment and other counts.

He was accused of sexually abusing his Indonesian housekeeper and keeping her as a virtual slave. He denied the allegations, saying he was a victim of anti-Muslim sentiment.

Al-Turki’s latest push for release was denied Thursday. He had asked to have his prison term reduced to probation so he could return to Saudi Arabia. A judge said he had no authority to do that.

Last year, state prison officials denied al-Turki’s request to be transferred to Saudi Arabian custody under an international treaty.

The prisons director at the time, Tom Clements, was ready to approve the transfer but then denied it after an FBI agent contacted prison officials, according to testimony during court hearings last year. The officials haven’t said why Clements changed his mind or what the FBI agent said.

About a week after the treaty transfer was denied, Clements was shot and killed at his home. Prison officials said they investigated but found nothing linking al-Turki to the crime.

Still, prosecutors said in November that al-Turki remained a person of interest in the Clements investigation.

After the treaty transfer was denied, al-Turki asked Arapahoe County District Judge J. Mark Hannen to reduce his sentence to probation so he could be transferred to Saudi custody to complete the sentence.

Saudi government officials promised to enforce whatever terms Colorado imposed.

Colorado prosecutors said there was no way to ensure Saudi Arabia would enforce the sentence. They also said al-Turki was not eligible for release because he refused to participate in a required prison program for sex offenders.

Al-Turki’s lawyers said his religion prevented him from participating in the sex-offender program because it required him to look at photos of women in bathing suits or undergarments. They also said he would have to confess to the crimes, which they say he cannot do because he is challenging his conviction.