A Saudi official reportedly issued what was perceived as a death threat against a United Nations investigator following her investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking to The Guardian, Agnès Callamard, the organization’s special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, said she was alerted to the threat by a UN colleague in January 2020. Two threats were allegedly made toward Callamard by a Saudi official during a meeting of senior UN officials in Geneva, in which the official reportedly threatened to have her “taken care of” if she was not reined in by the UN.
“A death threat. That was how it was understood,” Callamard said when asked how her colleagues saw the statement.
After UN officials voiced alarm at the threat, other Saudi officials tried to reassure them that the threat should not be taken seriously, the Guardian reports. But after the officials left, the Saudi official remained and repeated their alleged threat to the UN officials.
“It was reported to me at the time and it was one occasion where the United Nations was actually very strong on that issue. People that were present, and also subsequently, made it clear to the Saudi delegation that this was absolutely inappropriate and that there was an expectation that this should not go further,” Callamard told the Guardian.
During the “high-level” meeting between Saudi diplomats in Geneva, visiting Saudi officials and senior UN officials, Callamard’s investigation into the Khashoggi killing was angrily criticized by the Saudis, Callamard said. The Saudi officials also reportedly baselessly claimed that Callamard had been paid by the Qatari government.
As the Guardian reports, Callamard’s 100-page report published in 2019 concluded there was “credible evidence” that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind Khashoggi’s death, along with other Saudi officials. The Saudi government has repeatedly denied that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s death.
The Biden administration has faced widespread criticism for its decision not to penalize the crown prince for Khashoggi’s killing, though it did issue sanctions and visa restrictions against other Saudi figures linked to the killing.
“This is a crucial step because it structurally addresses an unacceptable pattern of targeting, monitoring, harassment and threats to dissidents and journalists,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOn The Money: New batch of stimulus payments to hit accounts Wednesday | Biden eyes T infrastructure package | Senate confirms Walsh as Labor secretary White House eyes sweeping T spending proposal Texas Democrat’s office reveals photos of crowded Border Patrol facility MORE said early in March when defending the administration’s decision. “Our national security team believes this going after the network responsible for these actions is the best way to prevent a crime like this from ever happening again.”