US federal prosecutors have charged three Saudi nationals with student visas of smuggling weapons from America to Saudi Arabia. The case is the second in under a week where Saudis have been charged with committing serious federal offences in the US before fleeing back to the kingdom, in what appears to be an attempt to avoid punishment.
Two of the Saudi nationals were charged by a federal grand jury in Riverside, California, last week with allegedly buying more than $100,000 in weapons parts in the US and smuggling them back to Saudi Arabia while a third was charged in Los Angeles for similar offences, reported the Mercury News.
The California daily named the three suspects as 36-year-old Hatim Humeed Alsufyani, 27-year-old Mosab Alzahrani and 30-year-old Abdulwahab Mohammed A. The first two suspects were charged with one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods out of the US without obtaining export licenses, according to court documents, while Alabdulwahab was charged with 15 counts of smuggling and 15 counts of knowingly exporting firearms parts from the United States without an export license.
Alsufyani was also charged with three counts of knowingly exporting weapons parts without a license, while Alzahrani was also charged with one count of knowingly exporting weapons parts without a license.
If convicted of all charges, Alsufyani could face a maximum sentence of 65 years and Alzahrani could face 25 years. Alabdulwahab could face ten years in federal prison for each smuggling count and 20 years imprisonment for each violation of the Arms Export Control Act, reported the Mercury News.
In the same week Saudi nationals employed by Twitter were accused of spying for Riyadh by digging up private user data and giving it to Saudi officials in exchange for payment. The suspects were residing in Saudi Arabia when federal prosecutors announced that the men were wanted for spying for the kingdom.
It’s unclear if the Saudi nationals will be extradited to face US courts or suffer any penalty for their offence.