RIYADH (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia has been sharply criticized for undermining the American judicial process by helping its citizens residing in the U.S. to flee the country in order to avoid facing criminal charges, including murder and violent crimes.
Details of the extent to which the Saudi embassy in Washington provides assistance to Saudis residing in the U.S. to abscond justice were revealed in a Washington Post article on Tuesday in light of efforts by the Biden administration to put an end to this ongoing problem that has angered families of victims and U.S. officials alike.
The Saudi embassy’s assistance to criminals evading justice for some of the most serious crimes is said to be an open secret.
The FBI concluded two years ago that Saudi government officials “almost certainly assist U.S.-based Saudi citizens in fleeing the United States to avoid legal issues, undermining the U.S. judicial process” according to an intelligence bulletin cited in the Post.
Assistance to Saudi criminals are said to be overseen by a mid-level official within the embassy who manages a network of American criminal defense lawyers and self-described “fixers” paid to keep Saudis charged with crimes out of prison.
According to an investigation by the Post, this network goes far beyond the traditional role of consular services and helped accused Saudis evade court-ordered probation and arranged for travel and flights out of the United States when Saudi nationals have absconded from justice.
Over the past few years media reporting on Saudi fugitives exposed what many in Washington consider a problem that’s reached epidemic proportions. Saudi Arabia has no extradition treaty with the U.S. which means once a perpetrator flees to the kingdom there is no opportunity of victims and families getting justice.
The trend has become more acute over the years as the Saudi student population in the United States has exploded, rising from fewer than 5,000 in 2005 to more than 80,000 a decade later, according to Homeland Security figures cited in the Oregonlive, which highlights the growing problem of Saudi fugitives in 2019.