Masari launches fresh attack on Saudis

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Diplomatic Editor

The Saudi dissident, Mohammed al-Masari, brought his propaganda campaign to the heart of the City yesterday, convening a press conference at the London Chamber of Commerce to predict an economic crisis in the Arab kingdom.

Reporters were handed a critical survey of the Saudi economy written by academics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Mr Masari's performance in the City will constitute a new embarrassment to the Government, which is trying to get him out of Britain because ministers fear his activities will enrage the Saudi royal family and put lucrative arms contracts at risk. Mr Masari is appealing against a decision by the Home Secretary to send him to the Caribbean island of Dominica.

"I believe this appeal will take several weeks at least," a cheerful Mr Masari said. "My lawyers tell me the Home Office have not even instructed their barristers yet. Then of course we can take the matter to a judicial review, which can take many months. Meanwhile, we are here."

Mr Masari, who wants to see a pure Islamic state in Saudi Arabia, said he had been advised by Special Branch officers to adopt a low profile "in the interests of my own safety". But he had decided that the work of his Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights (CDLR) should continue.

The CDLR's latest project, unveiled yesterday, is a 41-page study entitled The Financial State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its author, Latif Wahid of SOAS, is a specialist in the international oil market.

Mr Wahid predicted a sharp increase in Saudi Arabia's budget deficit and current account deficit. He said weaker oil prices and fluctuations in market supply and demand indicated that the kingdom would face an economic crisis, worsened by expenditure on arms from Britain and other Western powers.