By James Reinl
NEW YORKv(AA) - United States officials believe Saudi Arabia’s government “almost certainly” helps its citizens escape justice by fleeing the country once they are accused of serious offenses, The Oregonian newspaper reported Friday.
It said it obtained a newly declassified document from the FBI that said Riyadh’s assistance to suspects was “undermining the US judicial process.”
The revelations are the latest details to emerge to stoke tensions between the U.S. and its hydrocarbon-rich Gulf ally, in the wake of a Saudi officer’s fatal shooting of three Americans at a naval base in Florida last month.
The newspaper described an FBI intelligence bulletin in August that was released Friday, that said the U.S. must take action to stop Riyadh from helping Saudi wrongdoers escape overseas.
The heavily-redacted document said Riyadh helps citizens escape to avoid embarrassment, but does not indicate what assistance it gives nor the number of fugitives who have fled.
An investigation by The Oregonian last year uncovered several instances of Saudis studying at U.S. colleges who faced manslaughter, rape and other serious charges who then vanished -- presumably with help from Riyadh.
In some cases, suspects managed to exit the U.S. even after surrendering their passports to authorities.
One suspect, Abulrahman Sameer Noorah, a student at Portland Community College, vanished weeks before his 2017 trial in the hit-and-run killing of Fallon Smart, 15, who later reappeared in Saudi Arabia, the newspaper said.