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Saudi Students Vanish; Accused of Serious Crimes in US

(Illustrative photo: Thomas Nugent/Creative Commons 2.0)
(Illustrative photo: Thomas Nugent/Creative Commons 2.0)

A string of Saudi students accused of serious crimes in Oregon have vanished, reported OregonLive.com. Federal agents believe that the Saudi government has helped all of them escape the U.S.

The latest case involves Abdulaziz Al Duways, a Saudi student accused of raping a classmate after giving her marijuana and shots of Jack Daniel’s.

Duways had previously been arrested twice for driving under the influence of intoxicants and had failed to appear in court on both occasions.

In this case, Duways was required by the judge to turn over his passport to his private defense lawyer. According to Oregon law, bail can only be denied in cases of murder or treason and only 10 percent of the bail must be posted.

The judge set bail at a half-million dollars. The required $50,000 was posted by an official from the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Los Angeles.

Then before his trial, Duways vanished.

A previous case saw Saudi national Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a Portland Community College student accused of a hit-and-run death of a 15-year old Portland girl, similarly disappear two weeks before his trial which was scheduled for June 2017.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals Service now believe he cut his electronic tracking device, left his residence in a black SUV, used an illicit passport and escaped the country in a private plane – all with the help of the Saudi government.

This past July, 13 months after he disappeared, the Saudi informed the DHS that Noorah was back in Saudi Arabia.

Investigations by OregonLive revealed there are “criminal cases involving at least five Saudi nationals who vanished before they faced trial or completed their jail sentence in Oregon. They include two accused rapists, a pair of suspected hit-and-run drivers and one man with child porn on his computer.”

In all the cases, the young men were studying at a college or university in Oregan and getting assistance from Saudi Arabia. Some of the men have been traced back to Saudi Arabia.

In four of the cases, the Saudi government paid their bail and possibly their legal fees. All the men had surrendered their passports and all vanished while facing charges or jail time.

The same lawyer was hired to represent the last four cases. “This [latest case] is even more evidence that the Saudi government has acted to help its citizens escape justice for crimes committed in Oregon,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, speaking to OregonLive.

The new outlet reports:

The number of Saudi students in the U.S. has surged since 2005, when the oil-rich nation created a generous scholarship program for those seeking to study abroad.

The program covers full tuition, provides a monthly living stipend and offers other perks to those who attend American colleges or universities.

More than 44,000 Saudis studied in the U.S. during the 2017-2018 academic year, according to data from the Institute of International Education. About 1,000 of them are at Oregon colleges and universities — second in the state only to China, figures show.

Christina Luther, the director of Portland State University’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services, said most of the Saudi students today in the university study business, engineering and architecture.

 

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