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UN Special Rapporteur says top Saudi official issued death threat against her for role in Khashoggi investigation

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A top Saudi official issued a death threat against Agnès Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur behind the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Callamard’s office.

Callamard told the Guardian in an interview published Tuesday that she was informed by UN colleagues in January 2020 that a senior Saudi official had threatened to have her “taken care of,” an alleged threat that, she said, she and others understood to mean a threat on her life.

A press officer for Callamard’s office, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed her comments to CNN on Tuesday.

The Saudi government did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The outgoing Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killings published a nearly 100-page report in June 2019 which concluded that there was “credible evidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials were responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.

Khashoggi had written a number of outspoken columns for the Washington Post criticizing the Saudi regime.

Callamard told the Guardian her colleagues said they witnessed the threats during a high-level meeting in January 2020 with Geneva-based Saudi diplomats and visiting Saudi officials and “understood” them as a “death threat.”

It was one of the visiting Saudi officials who claimed to have received phone calls from individuals willing to “take care of her,” she said.

CNN has not been able to independently corroborate Callamard’s account of the exchanges.

In addition to allegedly threatening her life, the Saudi officials also made allegations that she had received money from Qatar and extensively criticized her investigation into the murder, she said, according to her colleagues who were present.

In the interview, Callamard called it the “one occasion where the United Nations was actually very strong on that issue” adding that it “made it clear to the Saudi delegation that this was absolutely inappropriate and that there was an expectation that this should not go further.”

Callamard concluded that “those threats don’t work on me,” adding that they “didn’t stop me from acting in a way which I think is the right thing to do.”

She is set to take up a new role this month as Secretary General for Amnesty International, having carried out her UN role since 2016.

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