Human Rights First Condemns U.S., Egyptian Ties to Khashoggi’s Murderers

WASHINGTON – After recent reports that the Egyptian government was complicit in the October 2018 murder of Saudi Arabian journalist and American permanent resident Jamal Khashoggi, and that a U.S.-authorized firm provided military training to members of the Saudi Arabian security forces unit that later murdered Khashoggi, human rights advocates decried U.S. ties to those responsible for his death.

“These reports make a point that has long been clear: the United States enables repression and brutal violence when it provides security assistance to abusive governments,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Mike Breen.  

“While the U.S. decisions to authorize training to the Saudi Royal Guard were reportedly made under previous administrations, we are alarmed that the Biden administration is unwilling to confirm that the United States authorized the trainings or to discuss whether its ‘recalibration’ of U.S.-Saudi relations has ended this kind of entanglement. It has also declined to share what it knows about Egypt’s alleged role in equipping Saudi assassins on their way to murdering a renowned journalist and dissident.

“Congress should conduct oversight to find out whether the Leahy law and other relevant restrictions were followed in authorizing the trainings. But no vetting or end-use monitoring policies can overcome the grave risks that are inherent in training the forces of a notoriously abusive and unaccountable government. With that in mind, Congress should investigate to what extent the United States is still providing or authorizing similar trainings, and it should tighten the legal restrictions on security assistance to the Saudi and Egyptian governments.

“Tools like Global Magnitsky sanctions and the ‘Khashoggi Ban’ on entry into the United States can be valuable in providing a measure of accountability for acts of repression after the fact.  But to prevent such acts, and ensure the United States is not complicit in them, the executive branch must end U.S. assistance to nations that consistently abuse human rights.”


Published on June 23, 2021


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