The “Washington Post” newspaper revealed new details regarding the role it said that the Saudi authorities are playing in “smuggling their citizens who commit crimes in the United States, through its embassy in Washington and with the help of Saudi officials and a network of American lawyers.”
According to the extensive investigation, conducted by the newspaper, among the trafficked persons, most of whom are university students, are accused of murder, rape, and possession of child pornography.
“A mid-level official working at the Saudi embassy in Washington oversaw that assistance by running a network of American criminal defense lawyers who paid to keep Saudis accused of crimes out of prison,” she added.
This network, according to the newspaper, provided traditional consular services such as arranging bail, providing interpreters and legal representation for people accused of violent crimes.
But this network also bypassed the traditional role of embassies, helped defendants evade court-ordered surveillance, and arranged for travel and flights outside the United States, according to Washington Post interviews with more than a dozen people connected to the case, as well as US court documents and records. International travel.
The newspaper notes that the FBI concluded in a declassified 2019 document, at the request of Congressional Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, that Saudi government officials “certainly help their citizens residing in the United States flee to avoid legal problems, and undermine the judicial process.” American”.
An advisory issued by the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in December of the same year warned of foreign governments “which provide financial assistance to enable the payment of bail, assistance in obtaining or exchanging travel documents, or arranging secret travel outside the United States to avoid arrest or while awaiting trial or even after conviction.”
The advisory did not mention Saudi Arabia by name, but a senior US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, told the Washington Post that the advisory was “targeting Saudi nationals fleeing the country, prompting the department to warn prosecutors.”
The newspaper asserts that the administration of US President Joe Biden recently demanded that Saudi Arabia stop helping “accused criminals escape.”
In meetings with their Saudi counterparts, senior State Department officials have made clear that such individuals should face prosecution in the United States, and that any Saudi government interference with the integrity of the American criminal justice system is unacceptable, according to a letter sent by the State Department’s Congressional Relations Officer, Naz. Durakoglu to Senator Wyden last March.
The letter revealed, according to the newspaper, that “the Saudi government tacitly admitted to helping its citizens escape, after years of denial.”
“The Saudi government has confirmed that it has directed its foreign missions not to provide travel documents or other support to Saudi nationals facing criminal proceedings that would help them escape from the US criminal justice system,” Durakoglu’s letter said.
Among the people the newspaper says the embassy has helped to escape outside the United States is Husam El-Eidi, who was enrolled as a student at Radford University in Virginia.
According to court records and the Prince Edward County District Attorney, El-Eidi is wanted for violating the terms of his probation after being convicted on charges including assault in 2018.
Two other Saudis, one of whom is Abdullah Hariri and the second of whom is Sultan Al-Suhaimi, are also accused of premeditated murder in Greenville, North Carolina, according to police and court documents.
The newspaper says that travel data obtained by it shows that Al-Suhaimi left the country on October 17, 2018, with the help of the Saudi authorities, four days after the crime, on a plane that departed from Dulles Airport, Virginia.
It was not confirmed whether his colleague Hariri had left on the same plane or by another flight, according to the newspaper.
The newspaper said that “the Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to repeated requests for comment.”
Al-Hurra also contacted the Saudi embassy in Washington by phone and via a window on its website, without getting any response.
It should be noted that there is no agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United States to exchange and extradite criminals, which makes the return of any Saudi suspect unlikely, if not impossible, in the absence of diplomatic or political pressure.
The Saudi embassy had announced earlier that its government would cover the costs of bail for any citizen imprisoned in America who needs financial assistance for his release.
The kingdom also denies any role in helping Saudi nationals flee.