A Saudi diplomat has reportedly sought political asylum in the United States, saying his life is in danger if he is returned to his native Saudi Arabia.

The diplomat, whom NBC News identified as Ali Ahmad Asseri, said Saudi officials terminated him from his job after they discovered that he was gay and was close friends with a Jewish woman. Asseri was the first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles.

"My life is in a great danger here and if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight," Asseri told NBC in an email message.

The report on Saturday said Asseri had also posted a letter on a Saudi website criticising his country's "backwardness" as well as the role of "militant imams" that have "defaced the tolerance of Islam."

In the letter, Asseri also threatened to go public with embarrassing information about members of the Saudi royal family living in the US.

According to NBC, the last Saudi diplomat to seek asylum in the US was Mohammed al-Khilewi, an official with the country's United Nations delegation, who sought protection in 1994 after publicly criticising Saudi Arabia's human rights record and what he said was its support for terrorism.

Source: Agencies