Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

senate Bill S. 231

Should the U.S. Investigate the Escape of Saudi Students Who Flee the Country While Facing Criminal Charges?

Argument in favor

The Saudi government has very likely played a role in helping Saudi students facing criminal proceedings in the U.S. and Canada escape before their trial dates, or before serving their full terms. This undermines the U.S. justice system, and needs to be investigated and punished.

Dara's Opinion
···
12/08/2019
Absolutely our State Department should be all over any possible criminals that flee our country. We have been granting full pardons to Saudis that are in bed with our GOP “friends” for decades. They love that money. Whores!
Like (49)
Follow
Share
Kevin 's Opinion
···
12/08/2019
The only plane in the air after the 9/11 ground stop was a Saudia flight bringing a plane load of millionaires back to the Kingdom. The Saudi government routinely assists wealthy and connected “students” to abscond. That’s when they’re not busy dismembering Lawful US Resident members of our press corps. The Saudi regime is not our ally.
Like (32)
Follow
Share
Calvin's Opinion
···
12/08/2019
Absolutely as they are helped by the vile Saudis government. When will our leaders learn the Saudis are not and have never been our friends. They financed the 9/11 attacks and terrorism worldwide.
Like (19)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

The Saudi government government has already denied its role in any cases where its citizens have disappeared from the U.S. while facing criminal charges. Pressing the issue further now, at a time of already-heightened U.S.-Saudi tensions, would hurt the critical U.S.-Saudi alliance.

jimK's Opinion
···
12/08/2019
TickTock: Right On! … … … We have given the Saudi’s pass after pass, have given them our military tech and design details, turned a blind eye to Saudi state sponsored assassination of a US resident who dared to speak out against them and we are helping them to destroy Yemen. What have we become? Where are our ideals? What do we stand for? I know trump was really happy about how much stuff the Saudi’s bought from us, and has mush-mouthed any potential condemnation. Is that it? Have our goals been reduced to just the next great deal? Are we willing to sacrifice our country’s soul for cash? Having principles is often pretty hard work. Supporting ideals, honoring Oaths and having ‘purpose’ is neither expedient nor easy, but it is necessary to win the future. It is hard, it takes long term commitment, it takes resolve to do what is ‘right’ because it is ‘right’ and it means passing up the next great deal- if it means sacrificing winning the future. The issue here lies with our official relations with the Saudi government and not in the details of how they helped their citizen’s escape American justice.
Like (74)
Follow
Share
Ticktock's Opinion
···
12/08/2019
What’s to investigate? The U.S. Government has given the Saudis a by for years. The State Dept knows the score. Saudi nationals break the law, go to the Embassy and they make it possible for them to leave the country. This is not new and will not change under the Trump Administration. It was not long ago that a U.S. national killed a cyclist in a vehicle accident and left the United Kingdom claiming diplomatic immunity. An investigation will accomplish nothing. It’s a political stunt. If something is to be done sanction the Saudi Government for assisting a fugitive from justice. The U.S. Government doesn’t have the guts to do that particularly if they will not address the involvement of citizens of Saudi Arabia participation in 9/11.
Like (35)
Follow
Share
burrkitty's Opinion
···
12/08/2019
Saudi Arabia is no friend of the USA, but this is a brownie point political stunt. Yanking you’re citizens out of trouble is kind of the point of citizenship. We do it too. That woman that killed someone in the U.K.? Same deal. Is it good? Right? Moral? Ehhh... no. At least, not always. But Imprisonments on trumped up charges for political reasons is also a real thing that happens to people. So it’s hard to criticize. Very much the pot calling the kettle black. It is absolutely a tragedy for the victims and their families, but from the perspective of national security the issue is larger than any individual crime. It does tell us where some of the holes in our judicial process are though.
Like (25)
Follow
Share

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedJanuary 25th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 231?

This bill – the ESCAPE of Saudi Nationals Act— would direct the Secretary of State to work with the highest levels of the Saudi government to investigate the disappearances of two Saudi nationals who escaped pending criminal charges in the U.S. Specifically, it’d call for the investigation of Abdulrahmeen Sameer Noorah, a Saudi national who fled Oregon before standing trial for manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and reckless driving, and Ali Hussain Alhamoud, a Saudi national who fled Oregon for Saudi Arabia in 2012 before standing trial for multiple sex-crime charges, including rape in the first degree. Additionally, the Attorney General, in coordination with relevant federal and state authorities, would be directed to investigate whether any Saudi diplomat or Saudi government agent furnished Noorah with a fraudulent passport or assisted him in traveling to Saudi Arabia.

Should anyone with diplomatic or consular status be found to have assisted in Noorah’s escape, the President would be directed to declare them “persona non grata.”

This bill would direct the Dept. of State to not accredit any Saudi diplomat to serve in the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles until Abdhulrahman Noorah and Ali Hussain Alhamoud are returned to the U.S. to face criminal charges brought against them and the U.S. finds no reasonable cause to conclude that a Saudi diplomat or agent of the Saudi government aided in their return to Saudi Arabia.

This bill would also require the State Dept., in coordination with the U.S. Attorney General, to deliver a report investigating the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles’ involvement, or lack thereof, in aiding Noorah’s and Alhamoud’s disappearances. This report would be due within 90 days of this bill’s passage.

Finally, this bill would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to require the State Department to shut down any consulate or embassy in the U.S. found to have aided in the removal of one of its citizens in order to evade criminal accountability, provided Saudi diplomats found to have aided such a removal are not expelled from the U.S.

The bill’s full title is the Examining Saudi Consular Activities Promoting Extraction (ESCAPE) of Saudi Nationals Act.

Impact

Saudi international studies accused of crimes in the U.S.; Saudi diplomats; Saudi consular officials; Saudi government agents; State Dept.; U.S. Attorney General; and the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 231

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced this bill to ensure that the Saudi government’s role in helping Saudi citizens accused of crimes in the U.S. is fully understood, and that anyone who’s helped extract Saudi citizens is declared persona non-grata:

“When anyone within our nation commits a crime, they need to be held accountable—especially when that crime results in the death of an innocent teenager. Saudi Arabia’s blatant disrespect for international norms cannot be allowed to stand. We need a wholesale rethinking of our relationship with Saudi Arabia—and we should all be able to agree that any nation that helps their citizens escape from the law needs to be held fully accountable. After the shocking murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, this is yet another sign of Saudi Arabia’s flaunting of diplomatic norms.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), an original cosponsor of this bill, adds:

“More than a month after The Oregonian first put a spotlight on how Saudi Arabia’s government apparently helped accused criminals flee the United States, the Trump Administration has failed to explain what, if anything, it is doing to ensure these men face American justice. That’s totally unacceptable. Our bills will force the Justice Department to get to the bottom of what happened, and create tough consequences for any government that helps flout the U.S. justice system.”

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in December 2018, Rep. Wyden detailed law enforcement’s belief that Saudi Arabia helped Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a Saudi student accused of a fatal hit-and-run in 2017, escape the U.S. and asked what the Trump administration is doing to try to get him back so he can be held accountable for his alleged crime. Rep. Wyden also called for a thorough investigation of Noorah’s disappearance:

“These [allegations that Saudi Arabia assisted Noorah’s escape] 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. 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…. Since the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, what steps is the Trump administration taking to ensure Mr. Noorah is accountable for the death of Ms. Smart?”

After following up on his December 2018 letter with a February 5, 2019 letter to Secretary Pompeo and making a direct plea to FBI Director Christopher Wray during a Senate intelligence hearing on January 29, 2019, all to no avail. Sen. Wyden cast doubt on the Trump administration’s motives in a February interview with VICE:

“Not only is it very frustrating, but you’ve got to wonder what [the Trump administration’s] priorities are. For months and months we’ve heard those people talk about ‘America First’—well, to look at this it seems like they’re putting Saudi Arabia first. It’s been six weeks since law enforcement said the Saudis played an important role in whisking these suspects out of the country. When it comes to standing up for these families against these brutal crimes—rape, manslaughter—is the Trump administration going to in effect say, ‘Not interested’? Let’s let them describe what the argument is for the callous and indifferent treatment of these families whose lives are never going to be the same. Senators are in the business of talking. That’s what we do. But I’ve spoken with those parents and there are really no words you can say. Their lives are never going to be the same and they want justice done. The president, of course, is always talking about business opportunities with the Saudis and their making investments that create jobs and the like. But what it looks like to me is you have a medieval regime trying to repeatedly flout modern diplomatic norms. Is the Trump administration going to be complicit? Secretary Pompeo should call the Saudi ambassador into his office tomorrow. Certainly both at home and in Washington DC there’s a growing awareness of just how shocking this is, what an injustice this is. And until I believe the Trump administration is finally getting the message, this is not going away.”

The Saudi government completely denies any wrongdoing. In a statement saying that it provides legal assistance to all its citizens who are incarcerated, it says:

“The Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all of its officials strictly adhere to all US laws while inside the United States… Saudi diplomatic missions in the United States do not issue travel documents to citizens engaged in legal proceedings. The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is not true.”

On February 13, 2019, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told Sen. Wyden in a meeting at the senator’s office that a multi-agency probe into the cases of Saudi students disappearing in both Oregon and other states had begun. Sen. Wyden says that McAleenan said the administration is taking the cases seriously, and he requested direct action be taken quickly, as the senator would be “bird-dogging this case every step of the way.

This bill has one cosponsor, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Of NoteIn January 2019, an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed at least five cases of Saudi nations vanishing before facing trial or completing their jail sentences in Oregon. The cases included rape, two hit-and-runs, and possession of child pornography. The investigation found a number of commonalities in all five cases:

  • All involved young men studying at a public college or university in Oregon with assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the time of their arrest;
  • In four of the cases, the Saudi government stepped in to help, posting large sums of money for bail and possibly underwriting legal fees;
  • Three surrendered their passports;
  • All disappeared while facing charges or jail time;
  • The same Oregon defense attorney, Ginger Mooney, was hired to represent the four most recent suspects; and
  • Little is known of the whereabouts of the five, though some have been traced back to Saudi Arabia.

Federal law enforcement officials in the Dept. of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals Service told The Oregonian/OregonLive that they believe the Saudis helped orchestrate the escape of one of the students, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, and that Noorah arrived back in Saudi Arabia 19 months ago. Noorah was accused of killing 15-year-old Fallon Smart in a fatal hit-and-run in 2017. Two weeks before his June 2017 trial, Noorah was picked from his Southeast Portland home up by a private car, which drove him to a sand-and-gravel yard two miles away. There, he sliced off a tracking monitor that he’d worn for months, discarding it at the scene. After that, law enforcement officials believe Noorah got an illicit passport and boarded a plane (likely a private carrier) to flee the U.S.

Chris Larsen, a lawyer for Smart’s mother, Fawn Lengvenis, says of the situation, “It begs the question: Why isn’t the Saudi government respecting our justice system? It’s reprehensible.”

In a statement through Larsen, Fallon Smart’s family ads:

“It appears this is just the tip of the iceberg. This isn’t just a disregard for our laws and justice system. It seems to be Saudi policy and practice to assist their citizens in fleeing from justice, all serious crimes for which they should be held accountable. Each new report is devastating and disgraceful.”

In a follow-up to his original article, the reporter who wrote the original Oregonian/OregonLive article reported additional cases of Saudi international studies vanishing while facing criminal charges in at least seven other states — Montana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington State— and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

The number of Saudi students in the U.S. has risen dramatically since 2005, when the country created a generous scholarship program for those seeking to study abroad. The program covers full tuition, provides a monthly living stipend, and offers other perks to those who attend American colleges or universities. According to the Institute of International Education, over 44,000 Saudis — including around 1,000 at Oregon colleges and universities — studied in the U.S. in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Since the U.S. and Saudi Arabia don’t have an extradition treaty, an arrest of Saudi nationals who’ve fled the U.S. in Saudi Arabia is unlikely.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / satori13)

AKA

ESCAPE of Saudi Nationals Act

Official Title

A bill to express the sense of Congress regarding the likely involvement of the Government of Saudi Arabia in assisting no fewer than two Saudi nationals to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States, and to require the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress that describes such involvement, and for other purposes.

    Absolutely our State Department should be all over any possible criminals that flee our country. We have been granting full pardons to Saudis that are in bed with our GOP “friends” for decades. They love that money. Whores!
    Like (49)
    Follow
    Share
    TickTock: Right On! … … … We have given the Saudi’s pass after pass, have given them our military tech and design details, turned a blind eye to Saudi state sponsored assassination of a US resident who dared to speak out against them and we are helping them to destroy Yemen. What have we become? Where are our ideals? What do we stand for? I know trump was really happy about how much stuff the Saudi’s bought from us, and has mush-mouthed any potential condemnation. Is that it? Have our goals been reduced to just the next great deal? Are we willing to sacrifice our country’s soul for cash? Having principles is often pretty hard work. Supporting ideals, honoring Oaths and having ‘purpose’ is neither expedient nor easy, but it is necessary to win the future. It is hard, it takes long term commitment, it takes resolve to do what is ‘right’ because it is ‘right’ and it means passing up the next great deal- if it means sacrificing winning the future. The issue here lies with our official relations with the Saudi government and not in the details of how they helped their citizen’s escape American justice.
    Like (74)
    Follow
    Share
    What’s to investigate? The U.S. Government has given the Saudis a by for years. The State Dept knows the score. Saudi nationals break the law, go to the Embassy and they make it possible for them to leave the country. This is not new and will not change under the Trump Administration. It was not long ago that a U.S. national killed a cyclist in a vehicle accident and left the United Kingdom claiming diplomatic immunity. An investigation will accomplish nothing. It’s a political stunt. If something is to be done sanction the Saudi Government for assisting a fugitive from justice. The U.S. Government doesn’t have the guts to do that particularly if they will not address the involvement of citizens of Saudi Arabia participation in 9/11.
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    The only plane in the air after the 9/11 ground stop was a Saudia flight bringing a plane load of millionaires back to the Kingdom. The Saudi government routinely assists wealthy and connected “students” to abscond. That’s when they’re not busy dismembering Lawful US Resident members of our press corps. The Saudi regime is not our ally.
    Like (32)
    Follow
    Share
    Saudi Arabia is no friend of the USA, but this is a brownie point political stunt. Yanking you’re citizens out of trouble is kind of the point of citizenship. We do it too. That woman that killed someone in the U.K.? Same deal. Is it good? Right? Moral? Ehhh... no. At least, not always. But Imprisonments on trumped up charges for political reasons is also a real thing that happens to people. So it’s hard to criticize. Very much the pot calling the kettle black. It is absolutely a tragedy for the victims and their families, but from the perspective of national security the issue is larger than any individual crime. It does tell us where some of the holes in our judicial process are though.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely as they are helped by the vile Saudis government. When will our leaders learn the Saudis are not and have never been our friends. They financed the 9/11 attacks and terrorism worldwide.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, we don’t owe the Saudi’s anything. We have our own petroleum, so why do we bow down to them. If they commit a crime then they need to pay. But as usual our government will bow down and do nothing. Sad, but true.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    The Saudis not unlike Trump get away with murder. This is literally true for the both of them.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    I don't trust the Saudi government to hold their own people accountable, since they still have done nothing to atone for 9/11 nor the murder of Khasoggi. We need to act to protect ourselves from radicalized students who come here to study. I don't want to stop accepting students from countries such as Saudi Arabia, but we do need stronger ways to ensure they comply with our laws and cannot escape if they commit crimes, but we should not include the Saudi government in the process.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    Why would law enforcement activities suddenly becoming legislative acts in Congress? Is this how we will handle every crime? Let FBI, State Department l, CIA, Defense handle the investigation as they would any other crime occurring on a global scale involving the US.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    The Saudi's have gotten a pass for years. Remember 911? It's time to hold them to account. Oh, but wait, the president of the United States is above the law so why not the Saudi's. It must be nice to be held to a different standard than the rest of us. Then there was the French Revolution.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    I'm I to understand that Countable must receive enough YES votes for the FBI to investigate this act of terrorism?
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Why is this a question??? What’s the next vote Single or double ply toilet paper Get serious
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    Congress just working for a few people not working for the citizens.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    ... but they won’t because the Saudis own Trump and the Republicans. What a joke.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, this should have already been investigated by the State Department.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    The Saudis are not our friends. They are responsible for 911. 15 of the 19 high jackers were Saudi citizens. They are responsible for the murder of an American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And now a Saudi citizen we were training on our military base has murdered and hurt several people. I never agreed with the invasion of Iraq. We should have gone straight to Saudi Arabia. Don’t forget while the people on base in Florida were being murdered. Trump bowed his head and received the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian from Saudi Arabia! By all means, Cornyn, Cruz and Flores. Let this sorry excuse for a president continue to kiss the a$$es of those who wish death to America! Lord knows all three of you care more about the money they line your pockets with than you care about your own children!
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes because Donald Trump thinks that Saudi Arabia is so very good to the United States we need to keep track of what’s happening. Because they’re not so very good to the United States
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Why wouldn’t we investigate such criminals?
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course. I couldn’t care less about their homeland. Any crime on this soil should be handled. I’m not saying we go to war over one person but we can’t give free reign to nations who don’t share our views of the constitution.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE