The U.S. is refusing to directly condemn Saudi Arabia after the kingdom announced on Saturday it executed 81 people, including seven Yemeni men and one Syrian man. Rights groups say many of those executed were people arrested for participating in human rights demonstrations and that many of the defendants were denied access to a lawyer, held incommunicado and tortured. This comes as the U.S. is said to be in talks with Saudi officials about upping the kingdom’s oil supply to ease gas prices in the West. “It’s very clear that the Saudi government thought that they could take advantage of the Ukraine crisis to quietly carry out this execution,” says Sarah Leah Whitson of Democracy for the Arab World Now. Whitson says President Biden’s continued attempts to negotiate with Saudi Arabia while condemning the human rights abuses perpetrated by Russia are “pathetic,” undermining international law and U.S. credibility on human rights. She also says the Saudi government is trying to pressure the U.S. to scrap a lawsuit she is leading on the state-sanctioned murder of the Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi in exchange for increasing oil production.
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