The State Department has said it will not intervene in the case of a Saudi man accused of killing a 15-year-old American student in a hit-and-run in Portland, Oregon. Twenty year old Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah is believed to have fled the United States back to Saudi Arabia, with the help of Saudi officials, who reportedly helped him obtain a fake passport in order to fly him out of the U.S. An Oregonian reporter has revealed there are several similar cases of Saudi nationals accused of crimes that are suspected of receiving assistance fleeing the US by Saudi officials.
In October 2018, reporter Shane Dixon Kavanaugh received a tip from federal law enforcement about the case involving Abdulrahman Noorah, the Saudi national accused in the fatal hit and run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in Portland, Oregon. Noorah had lived in Portland since 2014 on a student visa living off an $1,800 monthly stipend paid for by the Saudi government. In August 2016, he was driving with a suspended license when he struck Fallon Smart as she tried to cross at 43rd Avenue in Portland. Witnesses told police the driver was speeding and did not attempt to stop. Noorah was arrested the next day and charged with manslaughter, felony hit and run and reckless driving.
Noorah was considered a high flight risk and likely would have remained in custody had the Saudi government not paid the $100,000 bond set on his $1 million bail. He was put on house arrest and ordered to wear a GPS monitoring system. According to Kavanaugh’s report, on June 10th, Noorah received permission from his release supervisor, Deputy Kari Kolberg, to study at the community college’s Southeast 82nd Avenue campus. That afternoon a GMC Yukon XL arrived outside the host home where he had been living and picked him up. GPS data from Noorah’s monitor bracelet shows he never went to the campus but instead traveled east along Southeast Division Street until the SUV arrived at Portland Sand & Gravel on 106th Avenue.
It is believed that his GPS monitoring device was removed on this day but his release supervisor didn’t discover he was missing until two days later on June 12th. Investigators later discovered a bag packed at the home. After the U.S. launched an international manhunt for Noorah, the Saudi government reached out to the Department of Homeland Security in July and told officials Noorah returned to Saudi Arabia on June 17th, five days after the SUV at picked him up. Federal law enforcement believes that the Saudi government helped Noorah escape prosecution and return to Saudi Arabia by getting him a fake passport and flying him out of the country on a private plane.
While investigating this case, Kavanaugh uncovered four similar cases in Oregon and more cases in other states, where young Saudi students were accused of serious crimes, from rape to possession of child photography. Many of them were bailed out by the Saudi government and all of them have since disappeared. After Kavanaugh’s report started receiving national attention the Saudi government released the following statement “The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is not true,” said the statement issued by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. “Contrary to some media reports, Saudi diplomatic missions in the United States do not issue travel documents to citizens engaged in legal proceedings.”