In a letter sent today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) joined members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cancel plans to attend Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative conference in light of concerns that the Saudi government is responsible for the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Considering the seriousness of the accused crimes, we need to review the details surrounding the incident before moving forward in our bilateral relationship with the Saudi government,” the letter reads.
Many American companies and media outlets — including Google, Uber, JP Morgan, Ford Motor Company, the New York Times, and CNN — have already pulled out of the conference, scheduled to take place next week in Riyadh. Members who joined the letter include Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Frank Pallone Jr., Filemon Vela, James P. McGovern, Alcee Hastings, Yvette D. Clarke, Jaime Raskin, Earl Blumenauer, Raul M. Grijalva, Steve Cohen, and Ro Khanna.
The full text of the letter is available here and below:
The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
United States Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20220
Dear Secretary Mnuchin:
We strongly urge you not to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh in light of the disappearance and alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials in their consulate in Istanbul.
As you are aware, Mr. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. While the mounting evidence suggests the involvement of 15 Saudi officials in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, many questions still remain unanswered.
According to Freedom House, a nonpartisan think-tank, global print, broadcast, and digital media freedom has reached its lowest point in 13 years due to, “unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies and new moves by authoritarian states to control the media, including beyond their borders.” The US has long valued the fundamental principles of press freedom and free speech and continuing to show support for a regime without seeking accountability for horrific crimes like the alleged execution of a journalist would be antithetical to democratic values. The crown prince has a long history of showing little tolerance for critics of his government, and we cannot continue to turn a
blind eye for the convenience of short-term economic gains from arms agreements, as suggested by President Trump.
As the Crown Prince prepares for his Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh next week, we strongly urge you to reconsider your participation. Many American companies and media outlets including Google, Uber, JP Morgan, Ford Motor Company, the New York Times, and CNN have already pulled out of the conference in light of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. Considering the seriousness of the accused crimes, we must request and review the details surrounding the incident before moving forward in our bilateral relationship with the Saudi government. Pending a thorough investigation that provides truthful answers to Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts, I encourage you to suspend any trips and meetings with Saudi officials.
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.
BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN
Member of Congress