On Friday, Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called on the Trump administration to take immediate action after the FBI revealed in a newly declassified document that the government of Saudi Arabia is assisting its citizens accused of serious crimes in fleeing the United States.
The document was declassified thanks to the Wyden-authored Saudi Fugitives Declassification Act, which became law in December. Wyden and Merkley have pressed the Trump administration for more than a year to reveal what it knows about Saudi government assistance to fugitives who have escaped the U.S., following reporting by The Oregonian showing that nearly two dozen Saudi citizens fled the country after being accused of manslaughter, assault, rape and other serious crimes.
According to the heavily redacted FBI document, “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) officials almost certainly assist US-based Saudi citizens in fleeing the United States to avoid legal issues, undermining the US judicial process.” The report said that the FBI’s assessment was made with high confidence.
“After more than a year of stonewalling, the Trump administration is out of excuses – the FBI has made it crystal clear that the outrageous pattern of Saudi citizens fleeing the U.S. after being accused of heinous crimes is no accident. The Saudi Government is almost certainly helping its citizens escape American justice, while the Trump administration sits on its hands,” Wyden said. “The Trump administration needs to tell the Saudis that there will be consequences if it happens again. Fallon Smart and the other victims of these crimes deserve nothing less than the full support of every agency with the tools to respond to this monstrous behavior.”
“When someone commits a serious crime on our soil, they must be held responsible in our courts,” said Merkley. “It’s completely unacceptable that the Saudi government has orchestrated secret missions to help its citizens with legal issues avoid justice by removing them from the United States. This FBI report provides further evidence that these escapes are almost certainly being orchestrated by the Saudi government. The FBI also made clear that the Saudis won’t change their behavior without direct engagement from the U.S. government—engagement that needs to happen at senior levels until justice is served. We’re going to keep pushing for answers and accountability, and to make it clear to the Saudi government that we will not allow Saudis to bypass our laws.”
In January 2019, Merkley and Wyden introduced two bills – the ESCAPE Act and the Preserving American Justice Act. Together the bills would impose significant consequences on foreign consulates that help their citizens escape legal accountability.