U.N. official ‘disappointed’ by Biden’s response to Khashoggi investigation

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, says the lack of sanctions on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sends a ‘dangerous’ message.

Video transcript

AGNES CALLAMARD: I was disappointed with the content of the report. It was short. It was basic. It was basically a political judgment or an analytical judgment based on information that was very much in the public domain, and that reflected almost, sometimes word for word, what I had in my own report.

And then I was even more disappointed a few hours later and a few days later when the Biden administration explained that it will not take action, further action against Mohammed bin Salman because he was the quasi-representative of a friendly state.

I found it to be shocking. I thought Joe Biden had made a commitment during his campaign regarding truth-telling and accountability. So I was expecting certainly more. And then I also felt that this kind of message is actually dangerous. You know, it gave the impression to would-be killers of journalists that, as long as they are friendly relationship with the United States, they can proceed with killing dissident. Yes, they may be named, a little bit shamed, but you know, there will be nothing else.


MICHAEL ISIKOFF: What specifically would you like to see, or believe should be done in terms of accountability?

AGNES CALLAMARD: Same thing that has been done to the other individuals named. There are sanctions imposed against them. The evident step that should be taken by the Biden administration is to impose the same sanctions. His assets should be frozen. His bank accounts-- abroad, of course-- should be frozen. That's what we would be-- you know, that's what they've done to the others. I don't see why they are not doing it to him, particularly because he's not even the head of state yet. So if there were any kind of questions regarding immunity, it does not appear to be applicable just now.

So that's the first thing. In my view, given who he is, given who Mohammed bin Salman is, and given what's happened in the past, which has included, for instance, him being welcomed with open arms of the G20 meeting in Osaka, because of that history behind us, my request, as well, is that Mohammed bin Salman should be banished from a number of those international gathering.

We should not have to confront the kind of images and the behaviors that we saw in Osaka, with every G20 leaders being forced to smile and welcome someone who is a known killer now, personal killer. It's not-- you know, I'm not naive, but in that particular case, it is somebody who used his position of power to order the killing of somebody he did not like. I mean, that's particularly gruesome.