Saudi nationals facing criminal charges in Oregon were able to escape justice thanks to their country's help.
The number of Saudi students in the U.S. has increased since 2005 when government created a generous scholarship program for those seeking to study abroad.
The Oregonian/OregonLive has found 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.
All the suspects were reportedly young men studying at a public college or university in Oregon with assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the time of their arrest.
In four of the cases, the Saudi government stepped in to help, posting large sums of money for bail and possibly underwriting legal fees, according to court records and interviews with prosecutors.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden expressed his frustration over the kingdom's interference in those cases after assisting its citizens fleeing prosecution in Oregon.
Wyden last month asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker for explanations about the disappearance of one of the defendants, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a Portland Community College student.
“It is unclear how these students were able to leave the country and travel internationally since they had surrendered their passports,” Wyden, wrote to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
“Given the similarities in these cases, a thorough investigation is needed to better understand the involvement of (the) Saudi government.”