UN investigator calls for spy tech sales ban on Riyadh

UN investigator calls for spy tech sales ban on Riyadh

Middle East Memo | Source URL

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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