TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – The FBI believes the Saudi government “almost certainly” helps its citizens flee the country after they are accused of serious crimes, according to a newly declassified document obtained by The Oregonian.
The surreptitious action is done, in part, to spare the wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom embarrassment, the FBI said.
Intelligence officials believe the flights from justice will continue without intervention by the American authorities.
Saudi officials “are unlikely to alter this practice in the near term unless the US government directly addresses this issue with (Saudi Arabia) and ties US cooperation on (Saudi) priorities to ceasing this activity,” according to the FBI.
The details are contained in an intelligence bulletin dated Aug. 29. The FBI released the document Friday as part of a recent law pushed by US Sen. Ron Wyden and signed by President Donald Trump last month that requires the FBI to publicly disclose what it knows about the Saudi government’s suspected role in helping its citizens avoid prosecution in the US.
The eight-page bulletin is heavily redacted and does not specify what the Saudi officials may have done, nor does it contain information about the size and scope of the practice.
But the document provides the first public acknowledgment by federal officials about the role Saudi operatives have likely played in the disappearance of numerous citizens who have gotten into legal trouble while in the US.
“I am shocked and appalled at what this memo describes,” said Wyden, whose office provided a copy of the document to The Oregonian. “The Trump administration is out of excuses for sitting on its hands while the Saudi government helps these fugitives evade justice.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The revelation comes a year after an investigation found multiple cases where Saudi students studying throughout the US vanished while facing manslaughter, sex crimes and other felony charges, with the suspected assistance of their government. The cases occurred under several US administrations.
One of the suspects, 21-year-old Portland Community College student Abulrahman Sameer Noorah, vanished weeks before his 2017 trial in the hit-and-run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart and later resurfaced in Saudi Arabia.
Officials with the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Marshals Service said they believed Noorah left his Southeast Portland neighborhood in a black SUV and later used an illicit passport and private plane — likely provided by the Saudi government — to flee.