How Have Saudi Students in the U.S. Been Able to Flee Back Home After Being Charged With Crimes Here? Help Us Find Out.
In December, reporting by The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed how a Saudi student at Portland Community College was able to flee to his homeland just as he was going to trial in 2017 for striking and killing a 15-year-old girl, Fallon Smart, with his car. The student, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, who was charged with vehicular manslaughter, posted a $1 million bond with funds provided by Saudi officials. Two weeks before his scheduled trial, he was picked up by a black SUV, ditched his tracking monitor and flew home — with help, U.S. officials believe, from the Saudi government.
The Oregonian/OregonLive soon found four additional cases in Oregon where Saudi nationals accused of rape and other crimes vanished in recent years before standing trial or completing their sentences. The Oregonian/OregonLive subsequently found similar cases in seven additional states (Ohio, Washington, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin) and Canada. Many of the accused were here on student visas, as part of a Saudi government scholarship program that has helped tens of thousands of Saudis study in the United States in recent years.
Now, The Oregonian/OregonLive is partnering with ProPublica to go deeper. For that, we could use your help.
Do you know of instances where Saudi nationals studying in the United States have been accused of a crime but then escaped prosecution? Perhaps you work in law enforcement or at a university. Or maybe you know someone who was hurt. Whatever the circumstances, we’d like to hear from you.
Are you a Saudi student studying in the United States? We would like to learn about your experience. Or maybe you have information of a more general nature about Saudi students at American universities (for example, the academic performance of those students or the impact of Saudi enrollment on a university’s finances); we’d also welcome hearing from you.
We understand your privacy is important. We will not voluntarily publish the identity of any of our sources without their explicit permission.
If you’d rather talk on Signal or WhatsApp, which are more secure, send a message to 347-244-2134 or email Saudi.Tips@propublica.org.