By Umar Farooq
Saudi Arabia is believed to have helped a number of its citizens in the U.S. state of Oregon escape after being involved in criminal activities, in some cases helping them get away with murder, according to a report.
Abdulaziz al Duways, a student at Western Oregon University, was arrested in December 2014 and accused of raping a classmate after giving her marijuana and alcohol. His bail was set at $500,000, and his passport was turned over to the lawyer representing him.
The Saudi consulate in Los Angeles posted bail a few days later, and al Duways disappeared, The Oregonian newspaper reported Monday.
The case preceded a similar one, involving Portland Community College student Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, who had similarly disappeared after being charged in 2016 with the deadly hit-and-run of a 15-year-old girl. The law enforcement authorities told The Oregonian that the government of Saudi Arabia helped Noorah escape.
A total of five cases involving Saudi nationals escaping potential imprisonment were reported, and the cases have strikingly similar characteristics.
All of the cases involved young Saudi citizens studying at a university or college, and in four of the most recent cases the same defense lawyer, Ginger Mooney, was used. In four of the cases, the Saudi government posted the bail of the suspect, and all the individuals disappeared before facing charges or jail time.
"This is even more evidence that the Saudi government has acted to help its citizens escape justice for crimes committed in Oregon," Senator Ron Wyden told The Oregonian.
The newspaper reported the five cases
After initially denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts, Saudi Arabia eventually blamed his grisly slaying on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.
His body has yet to be found amid reports it was dismembered and chemically dissolved.
Riyadh has indicted 11 people tied to Khashoggi's killing and is seeking the death penalty for five suspects. But critics have suggested the individuals are merely taking the fall for Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's operation after an unexpected international outcry.
Wyden wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker last month, demanding answers for the disappearance of Noorah.
"These are shocking claims in any event, but with the barbaric murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, they suggest a brazen pattern of disregard for the law and abuse of diplomatic privileges," Wyden wrote in the letter obtained by The Oregonian.
"If they are accurate, they would require significant restrictions on Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic privileges and call into question the future of America’s bilateral relationship with the Saudis," he added.