(New York, NY) — PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel issued the following statement in response to reports that a Saudi government official threatened the life of Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions. Callamard led an independent inquiry into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi that determined his murder was an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia was responsible.

“Agnes Callamard has shown unstinting courage and integrity in her single-minded commitment to expose the truth of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. When the world community and individual governments refused to investigate, she did so, forcing the world to come to grips with this dastardly act. It is hardly surprising that the regime behind his killing would view her work as a threat, but the horrifying revelation that a Saudi official—one with human rights in his title, no less—threatened to murder Callamard is still shocking. That the Saudi government, on orders of the crown prince, not only butchered Jamal Khashoggi but contemplated taking the life of a UN official examining his murder is yet more evidence of the regime’s outright lawlessness. Such flagrant disregard for even the most basic norms of international conduct as threats on the life of a UN representative must not go unanswered by the international community. PEN America stands in solidarity with Agnes Callamard against these threats and in support of her crucial work in advancing accountability for Khashoggi’s brutal murder. The U.S. government and other international actors must now take concrete steps to respond to these heinous acts and force a course correction by the Saudi government.”

On March 18, Nossel testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. In her remarks, Nossel noted called on Congress to pass legislation that would hold Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman to account for ordering Khashoggi’s murder, saying, “The crown prince must face meaningful personal consequences for having directed a gruesome crime that shocked the conscience of the world. Otherwise, the shroud of untouchability shielding not just him but other abusive autocrats with whom the U.S. does business will stiffen, with grave implications for global press freedom, free expression, and human rights.”