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UN investigator calls for spy tech sales ban on Riyadh

Published: July 3, 2019
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The UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings today called for a moratorium on selling surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as reported by Anadolu Agency.

The call from UN investigator Agnes Callamard comes after last month’s release of her report on Khashoggi’s death.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October last year.

Riyadh offered various, conflicting narratives to explain his disappearance before acknowledging he was murdered in the diplomatic building while seeking to shift blame for his death on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.

Khashoggi’s body has not been recovered, and the Kingdom has remained silent on its whereabouts.

Callamard said that a ban on foreign sales of that technology would help to not only hold Riyadh accountable for Khashoggi’s death but to prevent such an extrajudicial killing from happening again.

An Israeli spyware company, Pegasus, reportedly sold surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia that was used to track the murdered journalist, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“I do believe there should be a moratorium on the sale of surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia,” Callamard said at a panel hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

The UN investigator’s report was released at the end of June, and said that the state of Saudi Arabia was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, but fell short of placing the blame on the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

All of the dimensions of the execution of the crime meet the definition of a state killing

Callamard said.

In her report, however, she called for sanctioning bin Salman because there is “enough evidence to suggest that he has a part of responsibility for the killing.”

Callamard said in the report she found “credible evidence” to further probe Saudi officials’ individual liability in Khashoggi’s killing, including Bin Salman.

Among its other recommendations, the UN report calls on the FBI and UN secretary general to launch criminal investigations into the murder of Khashoggi, who was a US resident.

Callamard said that the UN has been “paralysed” in how to deal with the killing, with many world leaders being hesitant in their responses.

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ON WEDNESDAY, the United Nations released the results of a five-month investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Utilizing recordings and forensic evidence from inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was killed, the 100-page report details the grisly final moments of the journalist’s life. The report suggested that Khashoggi first struggled with his killers, after which he “could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be investigated over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a UN rights expert has concluded, citing "credible evidence". In her long anticipated report, which was released on Wednesday, UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard said Khashoggi's death "constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has warned against "exploiting" the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains, in what appeared to be a veiled attack on Turkey. Turkey's ties with Saudi Arabia have come under strain since the brutal killing of Khashoggi last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which tarnished the reputation of MBS.

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