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Canada intervenes in Saudi spy chief lawsuit to prevent disclosure of sensitive information

The Canadian government is seeking a court injunction to prevent Saad al-Jabri from disclosing allegedly sensitive information in civil proceeding against him
 Saad al-Jabri
In 2020, Saad al-Jabri filed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, alleging a 50-person team known as the "Tiger Squad" was sent to kill him in Canada (AFP)

The Canadian government is seeking a court injunction to prevent Saudi Arabia's former spy chief, Saad al-Jabri, from disclosing allegedly sensitive security information in a civil proceeding against him.

In an application to the Federal Court on Wednesday, government lawyers requested an order under the Canada Evidence Act confirming a prohibition on the disclosure of material, as well as an injunction forbidding Jabri or his lawyers from filing certain information in an Ontario court.

It's the latest twist in a long-running feud between Jabri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

In the lawsuit against Jabri, ten Saudi state-run companies have alleged he colluded with former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and received $1.2bn in misappropriated funds.

Jabri worked closely with bin Nayef, who in 2017 was ousted, placed under house arrest, and replaced by MBS as the country's crown prince. The former spy chief fled the country before the palace coup saw MBS become the de-facto ruler of the country, and landed in Canada in 2018, where he currently resides. 

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Jabri, who for years worked in Saudi intelligence, alleges the Ontario court action is part of an effort to harm and intimidate him as a key supporter of bin Nayef.

Since deposing his cousin, MBS has centralised power and targeted any and all perceived foes and potential opponents.

Jabri filed a lawsuit in the US two years ago, in which he claimed MBS had sent a 50-person team known as the "Tiger Squad" to kill him in Canada in October 2018.

The alleged incident is said to have occurred less than two weeks after the murder of Middle East Eye columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Two of Jabri's children - Omar, 23, and Sarah, 21, were arrested in Saudi Arabia in March 2020 and held incommunicado until January 2021. They were later sentenced to nine and six years in prison respectively for "money laundering" and "attempting to escape" Saudi Arabia, according to Human Rights Watch. 

In an effort to have the Ontario proceedings stayed, John Adair, a lawyer for Jabri, indicated he would file a notice of motion and an affidavit with the provincial court, the Canadian Press agency reported.

The materials "will likely contain information that overlaps the information excluded from the U.S. proceedings on the basis of state secrets privilege", said the Canadian government's motion for an injunction in Federal Court.

In December, a US court dismissed the Saudi companies' lawsuit against Jabri after the US government asserted state secrets privilege in those proceedings.