Saudi Arabia denied media reports that they had ordered the relatives of the Saudi girls found dead in the Hudson River to leave the U.S., even though their mother said she got a call from the embassy.
The New York Times had reported the Saudi Embassy in Washington had called the mother of 16 year-old Tala Farea and 22 year-old Rotana Farea to inform her that her daughters had applied for political asylum. Other media outlets reported that a Saudi official had ordered her to leave the North American country just a day before the sisters’ bodies were found.
Saudi Embassy spokeswoman Fatimah S. Baeshen denied they had ordered “anyone related to the Saudi sisters... God rest their souls, to leave the US for seeking asylum."
"Reports that we ordered anyone related to the Saudi sisters to leave the US for seeking asylum are absolutely false," Baeshen wrote on her Twitter account on Saturday. "Details are still under investigation and will be shared in due course."
The Farea sisters emigrated from Saudi Arabia to Fairfax, Virginia in 2015, but were last seen by their family on November 30, 2017. Further investigations revealed they were living in a shelter and had suffered from an unspecified form of abuse before their disappearance. Police declared the sisters had used a credit card to reach New York City and pay for expensive hotels and meals until it reached its limit. They reportedly had said they would rather kill themselves before returning to Saudi Arabia.
Investigators in the U.S. believe that both sisters committed suicide together by walking into the water. The bodies showed no marks and an official that spoke to CNN said water was found in their lungs, suggesting they were alive when they entered into the river.
NYC Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea also believes this is a credible story and that there’s no “information that any crime took place”
The sisters were found wearing black leggings and black jackets, and were duct-taped together on their waists and ankles.
A “credible” witness said he saw two girls praying on a playground early October 24 and that the scene had “haunted” him.
The case raised suspicion as the deaths happened a month after the horrendous murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an event that has sparked international outrage at the kingdom.