DENVER – A Saudi man convicted of sexual assaulting his housekeeper and treating her as a virtual slave was moved from a Colorado state prison to a federal prison outside Denver with little explanation Friday.
Homaidan al-Turki had been held at the Limon Correctional Facility and was moved to the Federal Correction Institution Englewood, a minimum security prison.
State and federal prison officials confirmed the move but wouldn't discuss specifics about why it was done. One of his lawyers, Henry Solano, said a federal prisons caseworker told his team that the state had requested it for unspecified security concerns and wants al-Turki to finish out his sentence at a federal prison.
Solano said the transfer was a total surprise. He said he had a routine meeting with al-Turki in Limon on Thursday and he didn't say anything about being concerned for his safety.
Alison Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said the transfer was routine but said the department never discusses reasons for moves.
"We transfer inmates utilizing the federal interstate compact for offenders for the business needs of the department and the safe operations of our units," she said.
Al-Turki's request to serve out his sentence in Saudi Arabia was denied in March by then prisons' chief Tom Clements. Clements was shot and killed the following week when he answered his front door. Publicity about whether al-Turki could possibly be involved in Clements' death led to him being placed in solitary confinement three times over his objections.
Al-Turki sued over his treatment and alleged that state officials had leaked word that the possibility of Clements being killed in retaliation for the denial was "the main working theory" in the investigation.
A former prison inmate, Evan Ebel, is the only suspect named in Clements' death but authorities haven't released the motive for the killing yet.
It was unclear whether the Federal Correction Institution, where former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is being held, was where al-Turki ultimately would be held or was just a stopover on the way to another federal prison.
Morgan said Colorado still retains jurisdiction over al-Turki's incarceration.
Associated Press writer P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.