WA Appeals Court To Hear Saudi-U.S. Custody Case in Wenatchee
The Washington Appeals Court in Spokane will be holding hearings for several cases in Wenatchee this month.
The Appeals Court Division III updated its oral argument calendar Sunday.
It includes three cases with oral arguments on October 24 at Wenatchee High School.
The most prominent of the cases involves Bethany Alhaidari, who is battling her ex-husband from Saudi Arabia over custody of their child.
Alhaidari fled Saudi Arabia with her child in 2019, claiming she was forced into a conciliation agreement with her husband after the Saudi court granted a divorce between her and Ghassan Alhaidari, but did not grant her alimony.
The Saudi court decision allowed for joint custody of the couple's child but prevented Bethany Alhaidari from traveling overseas with the child for more than 28 days.
In 2020, Bethany sought legal protection in Chelan County and was granted custody of the child. The court also blocked Ghassan from having contact with the child.
Ghassan then filed to have the Saudi court's conciliation agreement enforced here.
Chelan County Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera ruled against enforcement of the Saudi decision, pointing out that Saudi Arabian laws deny women, non-Muslims and non-Saudi citizens due process.
Ferrera decision against enforcing the Saudi court decision said women are not treated as equal to men in Saudi Arabia.
Bethany is an American citizen, a non-Muslim and not a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
Ghassan Alhaidari is appealing Ferrera’s decision.
Bethany lives in the Wenatchee Valley with her now eight-year-old daughter, Zaina.
She's an activist who has worked as a human rights consultant and has operated a charity called saudijustice.org.
Alhaidari has a PHD in Human Rights Law and is now Executive Director Sage Advocacy Center, the Wenatchee area advocacy group for victims of abuse.
Human Rights Watch submitted an amicus brief in the appeal court case, saying Alhaidari would face a “serious risk of corporal punishment, lengthy imprisonment, and the death penalty” if she were to return to Saudi Arabia to accompany her daughter, if the court ruled to send Zaina back.
Cases out of Douglas County and Grant County superior courts will also be heard with oral arguments during the Appeals Court's hearing in Wenatchee.