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  • The FBI visited Saudi dissidents in the U.S. after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by the kingdom.

    The FBI visited Saudi dissidents in the U.S. after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by the kingdom. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 July 2019

FBI visited the dissidents of Saudi Arabia government to warn them about threats to their lives after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder by the kingdom.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the U.S. visited dissidents from Saudi Arabia after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to warn them of potential threat to their lives from the Gulf country according to an exclusive report by the Middle East Eye (MEE).

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Four Saudi dissidents, under the condition of anonymity, told MEE that the visits by FBI agents began a month after Khashoggi, a dissident journalist, was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey in October 2018. The visits continued until six weeks ago. 

“They were like, ‘Yep, we are worried about your safety. Your name has been flagged here in certain circles and in Europe’,” one of the activists said. 

One of the Saudi activists was warned due to his connections with Khashoggi. Another one runs a YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government. The third person participated in an opposition conference. 

An FBI spokesperson wrote to MEE that  the agency “regularly interacts with members of the communities we serve to build mutual trust around protecting the American public.”

The U.S. intelligence agencies are supposed to inform any U.S. or non-U.S. citizens residing in the country about any threats to them according to a directive from 2015. 

None of the Saudi dissidents were made aware of specific threats by the FBI. In one instance, an agent tried to calm down one activist saying they were sorry about Khashoggi’s murder and were “doing everything we can to get to the bottom of it.”

When one Saudi activist said that he was afraid of the FBI due to the closeness between the U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the agent distanced himself from the Trump administration. 

“I told them that I’m kind of afraid to deal with you guys because the current government has worked closely with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government. They said, ‘Don’t worry. We are here to protect people from everywhere. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House’,” said the dissident who was visited by the FBI last November. 

But he was also asked by the agent to help the FBI in return of assistance with his asylum case. 

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Another approached person said that he got a visitation when he attempted to buy a ticket for an international trip. He was told that his life is in danger in several locations abroad. 

Khashoggi’s killing created an international uproar shedding light on Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights condition. 

Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist from Saudi Arabia went into a self-imposed exile to the United States one year ago when the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman started his widespread crackdown on dissenters.

The Washington Post columnist went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, to get some papers for his marriage and never returned.

After three weeks of denial, the oil-rich country accepted that Khashoggi was indeed killed but said that the crown prince had no knowledge of the ‘rogue operation’ by 15 high profile Saudi officials who flew to Turkey the same day Khashoggi went to the consulate. His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found yet. 

The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions revealed last month that evidence suggested MBS and other senior Saudi officials are liable for the murder. 

Even after an international outcry, Trump sought to maintain his relations with the kingdom. 

“In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” Trump said in November after the CIA released an assessment implicating MBS in the killing of Khashoggi.

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