BILL SAMPSON STORY
of Saudi Arabia is a desert wasteland.
Saudi Arabia is two million square kilometres of
sand and contradictions.
A desert wasteland wraps around the modern metropolis
of Riyadh where austere piety co-exists with ostentatious
consumption. In three decades the population has
tripled to 21 million. The once nomadic bedouins
now play host to more than six million foreigners
there to make some quick money.
Riyadh is luxurious.
allowed to forget that they don't belong, the westerners
gather in bars socializing in ways the locals frown
on publicly. Ron Jones, an accountant from Scotland
lived in Saudi Arabia for six months. "It was
luxurious. You didn't need to go out of the compound.
It had swimming pools, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, gyms,
restaurants, gardens ... the lifestyle was sumptuous."
It was a lifestyle shared by Canadian Bill Sampson,
a biochemist who had been working in Saudi Arabia
more about Ron Jones experiences in Saudi Arabia
Car Bomb Explodes
car bombed when Christopher Rodway was killed.
But it all ended in a flash when both westerners experienced
the dark side of Saudi justice. On November 17, 2000
Christopher Rodway, a British engineer, died when
his SUV blew up in downtown Riyadh.
was a violent death that didn't make any sense -
except to Saudi Arabia's secret police. It wasn't
the first, nor the last, mysterious bomb to target
an innocent Westerner. The Saudis believed there
was a war going on among the bootleggers who supplied
the bars frequented by Westerners.
One of the first to realize that something sinister
was happening in Saudi Arabia was Bill Sampson's
father, James. "I was trying to contact him.
But I'd phone his home and the phone would just
ring and ring and ring and ring." Sampson had
planned to visit friends in England just before
Christmas 2000 and when he didn't show up his family
and friends grew concerned.
Sampson was concerned about his son.
James Sampson finally learned the horrifying truth.
His son was in solitary confinement in a Saudi prison
and was being held incommunicado. He called the Canadian
Embassy. "They said, yes, he has been arrested...I
was horrified and wondered what was going on. Why
had he been arrested?"
other foreigners accounts of Saudi prison.
Sampson along with six other Westerners had been
accused of being part of a plot to murder Christopher
Rodway. They had all vanished into Saudi Arabia's
impenetrable justice system.
Sampson appears on Saudi TV weeks after his
James Sampson was shocked when he saw a videotaped
confession on a British newscast on February 4,
2001. It was the first time he'd seen his son since
he disappeared and there was very little familiar
about the haggard man he saw on the TV screen, "He
looked downtrodden and beaten...he'd been taking
a lot of ill treatment to get him to look like that."
along with two other Westerners - an unlikely band
of terrorists - all had confessed their crimes on
Saudi TV. Prince Naif, the interior minister declared
them hit-men for warring western bootleggers and
called down God's wrath to punish them, "may
the ill will of those who conspire against us rebound
back to them."
trial for Bill Sampson