While details were scarce and could not be independently confirmed, the prosecution alleged that Canadian authorities thwarted a plan by a Saudi strike team to enter Canada and harm Aljabri two weeks away. sentence after the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The State Department letter, which was sent to Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy in response to his letter of concern for the safety of Aljabri’s children, also said the department had “repeatedly” called on the Saudi government to clarify the status and nature of the detention of children.
“The strength of the US-Saudi partnership – which has benefited both countries for more than seven decades – allows us to engage in frank discussions in areas on which we do not agree,” wrote Ryan Kaldahl, deputy secretary at Acting Legislative Affairs Office of the State Department. “The Department, in coordination with the White House and its interagency colleagues, will continue to engage its Saudi counterparts to resolve this situation in a way that honors Dr. Aljabri’s service to our country.”
The letter is important because the Trump administration has been reluctant to criticize the Saudi government’s human rights abuses, even after the murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist based in the United States.
It is also worth noting that the letter contained praise for Aljabri, which was the US embassy in Riyadh for the fight against terrorism. Aljabri, according to the letter, had “responded to threats against our mission and staff around the clock” and ensured the safety of US citizens.
Saudi media – and the Wall Street Journal, which called Aljabri a “fugitive” – reported that the Saudi government has opened an investigation into Aljabri for corruption. But in its letter, the State Department said that any accusation of wrongdoing against Aljabri should be dealt with “through established legal channels with full transparency and respect for the rule of law.”
In what appeared to be an extraordinary defense of Aljabri, the letter added, “If US interests are involved, the Department and interagency partners have open lines of communication with Saudi authorities to clarify and share information.”
The Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment.