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UN investigator who declared Soleimani killing unlawful named Amnesty chief

Agnes Callamard also led probe into murder of Jamal Khashoggi, concluded it was likely state-sanctioned by Saudi Arabia

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard answers questions on a report of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on June 19, 2019, in Geneva. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)
UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard answers questions on a report of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on June 19, 2019, in Geneva. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

LONDON — Agnes Callamard, who led a United Nations’ investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been appointed the new leader of Amnesty International.

The international human rights group said Callamard’s four-year term as secretary general begins Monday.

Callamard, a French human rights expert, has previously led free-speech organization Article 19 and directs the Global Freedom of Expression Project at Columbia University. As the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, she investigated the killing of Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 to pick up some documents, and never walked out.

Callamard has said that after her report on the killing was published in 2019 — concluding it was likely state-sanctioned — she was threatened with death by a senior Saudi official.

She also investigated the US drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and concluded it was unlawful.

Illustrative: A supporter of the Hezbollah terror group uses her mobile phone to takes a picture of photo of slain Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani during a ceremony marking the anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah leaders, Abbas al-Moussawi, Ragheb Harb and Imad Mughniyeh and the end of a 40-day Muslim mourning period for Soleimani, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, February 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Sarah Beamish, chair of Amnesty’s International Board, said Callamard’s “intellectual acuity, her deep global human rights experience, and her courageous voice makes her highly qualified to front our movement.”

She succeeds Acting Secretary General Julie Verhaar.

Callamard said she was “honored to take up the post of secretary general and work alongside Amnesty’s supporters around the world so that together we defend and demand respect for all human rights for all.”

Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty has offices in more than 70 countries and calls itself the world’s largest nongovernmental human rights organization.

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