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UN Khashoggi investigator says Saudi official appeared to threaten her life

Agnes Callamard says UN officials were warned she would be ‘taken care of’ if not restrained in her probe of dissident’s murder

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)

A Saudi Arabian official appeared to issue a death threat against Agnes Callamard, the United Nations investigator working on the case surrounding the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Callamard told The Guardian on Tuesday,

The outgoing special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings told the paper that the senior Saudi official had twice threatened to have her “taken care of” if she was not restrained by the UN.

“A death threat. That was how it was understood,” she said.

Callamard said one of her UN colleagues alerted her in January of 2020 that the official made the threats in a meeting with other senior UN officials in Geneva.

Callamard was told that during the meeting, the Saudi officials also “criticized her work on the Khashoggi murder, registering their anger about her investigation and her conclusions,” she said.

In this photo from February 1, 2015, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks at a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

In 2019, Callamard stated in a report that she had “determined that there is credible evidence” linking Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The report had stressed that “no conclusion is made as to guilt. The only conclusion made is that there is credible evidence meriting further investigation, by a proper authority, as to whether the threshold of criminal responsibility has been met.”

Callamard said then she had found evidence that “Khashoggi was himself fully aware of the powers held by the Crown Prince, and fearful of him.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s personal assets should be targeted with sanctions until there is proof he was not responsible for the murder, she added.

“In view of the credible evidence into the responsibilities of the Crown Prince for the murder, such sanctions ought also to include the Crown Prince and his personal assets abroad, until and unless evidence is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibilities for this execution,” Callamard wrote in her 2018 report.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Mohammed bin Salman — who is also known by the initialism MBS — was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

In this photo from November 27, 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured while meeting with the Tunisian president at the presidential palace in Carthage, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis. (Fethi Belaid/AFP)

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of his fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents.

Saudi prosecutors have absolved the crown prince and said around two dozen people implicated in the murder are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

Callamard has been conducting what she has described as “an independent human rights inquiry” into Khashoggi’s death.

UN special rapporteurs are independent and do not speak for the world body.

AFP contributed to this report.

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