O’Connor was sentenced to a 10-month prison term, and 300 lashes, after being convicted by a Saudi court on October 20 of the offense of selling alcohol. The Indian Protestant has repeatedly said that he is innocent of that charge, although he admits holding Bible-study sessions in his home. The Saudi court apparently dropped the charges against O’Connor– and he dropped his appeal– as part of the deal leading to his deportation.
O’Connor was arrested on March 25 by Saudi religious police, taken to a nearby mosque, and subjected to torture. Although repeatedly asked to sign a confession that he had sold alcohol, he steadfastly refused. O’Connor has said that the police told him he had been arrested for preaching; the alcohol charge was introduced later.
The public practice or preaching of any religion other than Islam is forbidden by law in Saudi Arabia, and transgressions of the religious law can bring harsh punishments under the nation’s Islamic legal code.