William Sampson: Canadian Hero

Many thanks to Diane (frequent poster at ITM comments) for this story.

In December 2000, Canadian citizen William Sampson was arrested in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on false charges connected with the al-Qaeda-backed November firebombing of an SUV in the Saudi city. In February 2001, Sampson and two other foreign nationals were tortured into "confessing" on Saudi television. Some time in 2001, Sampson was sentenced to death by beheading.

Sampson's father remembers him as a "stubborn bugger" since childhood. His defiance during his captivity under the Saudi regime was astonishing: 'He continually abused his guards verbally and threw things around his cell', according to this bio.

Human rights activists charged that the Canadian Government failed to aggressively press the Saudi regime for Sampson's release, which finally occurred on August 8, 2003. Shortly after the release, 'Documents obtained by the CBC reveal that William Sampson repeatedly told Canadian officials that he was being tortured. The documents, released to CBC's the fifth estate under the Access to Information Act suggest that the government dismissed his allegations of torture as speculative, right up to the time of his release on August 8,' according to this CBC chronology. Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham responded that if his department had publicly accused the Saudis of torture, Sampson might have been killed. In testimony before aHouse of Commons committee in November, Sampson blasted the Foreign Affairs department, while thanking the Canadian public for its support. He went on to take legal action against his Saudi tormentors, as well as demanding a full inquiry from the Canadian government.

Read more at these links:
William Sampson homepage
CBC: A State of Denial
CBC timeline