Triggering a federal investigation and new legislation in Congress, fugitive Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah’s 2016 manslaughter case hit a dead end in Multnomah County, Oregon. The Saudi perpetrator disappeared just weeks before his trial after posting a $100,000 bail in 2017. The money was given to him by the Saudi consulate. United States officials believe Noorah was assisted during an escape in which his GPS monitor was removed, and he was flown out of the US by Saudi diplomats on what was most likely a private plane. A US court had confiscated Noorah’s passport. The Oregonian reported that Noorah’s hit-and-run case was one of “at least five” criminal cases involving Saudi nationals who “vanished before they faced trial or completed their jail sentence in Oregon.”
The United States’ government decision not to intervene came after the Oregonian uncovered “a pattern of Saudi defendants vanishing while facing criminal charges,” Shane Dixon Kavanaugh wrote. In a separate report for WhoWhatWhy, Spencer Feingold wrote that the investigation “sparked outrage from Oregon’s Democratic senators,” who demanded that Noorah to be brought back to the US for trial and called for a “federal probe into Saudi state involvement.” Feingold’s reports linked Noorah’s case to broader concerns regarding ties between President Trump’s administration and the Saudi government, especially in light of White House declarations of “increasing cooperation” between the two countries.
All of the five Saudi nationals who vanished were male students who stood accused of crimes that included rape, hit-and-runs accidents, or child pornography. In four of these cases, the Saudi government posted bail and may indeed have paid the accused students’ legal fees. Despite three of the men surrendering their passports to the court, all five vanished before facing juries.
Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, “Saudi Students Escaping U.S. Justice: What We Know and Don’t Know,” Oregonlive.com, Oregonlive.com, February 22, 2019, www.oregonlive.com/news/2019/02/saudi-students-escaping-us-justice-what-we-know-and-dont -know.html.
Spencer Feingold, “US Won’t Pursue Saudi National Wanted in Manslaughter Case,” WhoWhatWhy, March 11, 2019, whowhatwhy.org/2019/03/11/us-wont-pursue-saudi-national-wanted-in-manslaughter-case/.
Student Researcher: Jim Hetherington (Drew University)
Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Lynch (Drew University)