A Welsh woman was arrested for kissing and hugging an American student on a Saudi university campus, a judge has heard. Amina Al-Jeffery, 21, has launched legal action against her father, claiming he locks her up at his home in Saudi Arabia.Lawyers outlined details of her arrest at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Thursday.
Miss Al-Jeffery – who grew up in Swansea and has dual British and Saudi Arabian nationality – claims her father, academic Mohammed Al-Jeffery, imprisons her at his home.
Lawyers representing Miss Al-Jeffery say they fear for her safety and have taken legal action in London in a bid to protect her.
But her 62-year-old father, who works at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, has received funding from the Saudi government to fight the High Court’s order to return her.
The judge is scheduled to deliver a ruling on Wednesday and has described the case as ‘difficult and unusual’.
Mr Justice Holman was told Miss Al-Jeffery left Swansea and moved to Saudi Arabia at the insistence of her father four years ago.
The judge heard her mother and siblings are back in South Wales.
Neither Miss Al-Jeffery nor her father have appeared at the High Court hearing.
Barristers Henry Setright QC and Michael Gration have represented Miss Al-Jeffery and outlined concerns.
Barrister Marcus Scott-Manderson QC is representing Mr Al-Jeffery.
Lawyers did not reveal when Miss Al-Jeffery had been arrested on the university campus – or whether she had been penalised by security officials – as they discussed the incident with the judge.
‘On the campus she was seen kissing and hugging an American student,’ said Mr Justice Holman.
‘She was arrested by security and risked imprisonment.’
He added: ‘The man in fact was forced to leave Saudi Arabia.’ Mr Scott-Manderson told the judge: ‘The man could have been subjected to physical punishment.’
The judge said there were reasons to be ‘very concerned’ about Miss Al-Jeffery’s welfare, adding there was a ‘degree of admission’ by Mr Al-Jeffery.
He said Mr Al-Jeffery had admitted locking his daughter in his flat when he went out and there had been ‘very elaborate steel latticework’ over windows so that Miss Al-Jeffery could not shout out.
A ‘barrier or partition’ had been put up at the property, which Miss Al-Jeffery had likened to a ‘cage’.
Mr Scott-Manderson said Mr Al-Jeffery had ‘required’ his daughter to go to Saudi Arabia when she was 16 because he was concerned about the life she led in Wales.
His concern is that she is going to be at risk (in Britain),’ Mr Scott-Manderson told the judge.
‘He is the head of a family that has its own moral and cultural standards.’ Mr Scott-Manderson reported how Mr Al-Jeffery had said: ‘I will not allow Amina to go back to a toxic lifestyle.’
The judge said Miss Al-Jeffery had grown up in South Wales and might prefer a western lifestyle. ‘She may indeed be expressing a preference to the more liberal lifestyle she knows goes on in this country,’ he said. ‘(Her father) is enforcing his point of view by locking her up.’