Saudi Arabia Helps Violent Fugitives Flee U.S. Justice System, FBI Says

Some of the Saudi citizens who have received help from the kingdom face rape, child pornography and manslaughter charges.

Saudi Arabia helps U.S.-based Saudi citizens flee the U.S. to avoid criminal prosecution, according to a recently declassified FBI memo.

The heavily redacted FBI intelligence bulletin, dated Aug. 29, 2019, was obtained and shared by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Twitter Friday. The Justice Department sent the document in response to a request from Wyden’s office.

Saudi Arabia officials “perceive the embarrassment of Saudi citizens enduring the U.S. judicial process is greater than the embarrassment of the United States learning that the [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] surreptitiously removes citizens with legal problems from the United States,” the FBI wrote in the bulletin.

Some of the Saudi fugitives receiving assistance from the Middle Eastern kingdom face charges ranging from traffic violations to rape, child pornography and manslaughter, according to the FBI.

Saudi Arabia will continue to help Saudi citizens charged with crimes evade the American justice system unless the U.S. government addresses the activity, the FBI stated in its bulletin.

The FBI said it made its assessment with “high confidence.”

In a joint statement on Friday, Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) urged President Donald Trump to take immediate action on the issue.

“The declassified FBI report is extremely damning for the Saudi government,” Wyden tweeted Saturday. “If after this bombshell information, the Trump administration still fails to hold the Saudi government accountable, it will be nothing short of an accomplice in helping Saudi fugitives evade justice.”

Wyden and Merkley introduced two bills earlier this month that would impose significant penalties on foreign consulates that help their citizens escape the U.S. judicial system.

The proposed legislation followed an Oregonian report that Saudi consular officials within the U.S. helped Abdulrahmeen Sameer Noorah, a Saudi nationalist, flee the U.S. after fatally striking 15-year-old Fallon Smart with his car in 2016.

Noorah, 21, was charged with manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and reckless driving but managed to flee the U.S. with the help of Saudi officials two weeks before his trial was set to begin, reported the Oregonian, citing federal law enforcement agents.

Neither the White House nor the State Department immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

The FBI’s assessment will likely add to the already strained relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The CIA determined Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Trump said the U.S. would continue to partner with Saudi Arabia despite the CIA’s findings.

Earlier this month, the U.S. sent back to Saudi Arabia nearly two dozen Saudi military students from a training program after a Saudi aviation student shot up a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, in December.

Attorney General William Barr said the attack, which left three U.S. sailors dead and injured eight other people, was motivated by “jihadist ideology” and has been classified as an act of terrorism.

Read the Justice Department’s note to Wyden and redacted report below:

Support HuffPost

Popular in the Community