The Mark Thatcher Affair: Informant lives in fear of assassins

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THE MAN who has provided the evidence of Mark Thatcher's involvement in the Al-Yamamah arms deal is Mohammed Khiweli, 31, a former First Secretary in the Saudi mission to the United Nations.

Following an alleged threat to his and his family's lives by a Saudi intelligence official in May, he applied for asylum in the United States.

The American government granted it in August despite the risk of upsetting relations with Saudi Arabia. Immigration officials accepted that he faced political repression if he returned to Riyadh. Mr Khiweli claims to have provoked Saudi wrath by pressing for human rights and democracy and complaining about high-level corruption. He has been given official protection in the US and government agencies have told him he is in danger of kidnap or assassination.

Mr Khiweli claims that he amassed more than 12,000 documents during his service in the Saudi Foreign Ministry. He has provided evidence that Saudi Arabia had engaged in a secret campaign to acquire nuclear weapons. As part of this plan, it emerged that Saudi Arabia had spent more than dollars 5bn ( pounds 3.3bn) on Iraqi nuclear research. The funding ended with the start of the Gulf war.

Mr Khiweli also disclosed that a senior member of the Saudi Royal family visited China with a view to buying experimental nuclear reactors in 1989.

The Saudis have denied threatening Mr Khiweli and described his documents as forgeries. Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the US - and a key player in the Al-Yamamah deal in the 1980s - said on US television: 'We're not after him. We want to help this guy. He can come back to his job if he drops this nonsense.' But he also said: 'I don't think this young man could lead eight ducks across the street.'

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