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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia"

Saudi officials go on trial in absentia in Turkey for Khashoggi murder

Westlake Legal Group saudi-officials-go-on-trial-in-absentia-in-turkey-for-khashoggi-murder Saudi officials go on trial in absentia in Turkey for Khashoggi murder Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 35a72e7f-7d6c-58ae-8d74-fa1fe18cea27

Jamal Khashoggi’s onetime fiancée called for justice in a Turkish court Friday, as 20 Saudi officials were tried in absentia for the murder of the writer and activist two years ago in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Hatice Cengiz spoke at the opening of the trial and said her fiancée was lured to his death through “a great betrayal and deception,” the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Cengiz had to pause a few times to stop her voice from breaking, The Guardian reported.

“This has been an exhausting process both mentally and morally,” Cengiz reportedly said speaking outside the courthouse following the three-hour hearing.

She expressed confidence in the Turkish judicial system, according to the BBC.

“Our search for justice will continue in Turkey as well as in everywhere we can,” Cengiz reportedly said.

Two former aides of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has denied any involvement, and 18 other Saudi nationals have been charged in connection to the killing of the activist and Washington Post columnist. The defendants were not present at the trial because Saudi Arabia rejected Turkish calls for their extradition.

Eleven of the men were put on trial behind closed doors in Saudi Arabia, but the proceedings in Riyadh have been widely criticized as a whitewash.

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE ONCE SAID KHASHOGGI COULD BE SILENCED WITH A BULLET

In December, five of the people were sentenced to death while three others were found guilty of covering up the crime and were sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who concluded that Khashoggi was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution” for which the Saudi state was responsible, attended Friday’s hearing in Turkey, the BBC reported.

“We have not moved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi into a formal setting that the international community can recognize, because the trial in Saudi Arabia could not be given credibility and legitimacy,” Callamard reportedly said.

She went on to say, “Here for the first time, we have the hit men being indicted and we have a number of those have commissioned the crime.”

Westlake Legal Group Khashoggi-Trial-AP-1 Saudi officials go on trial in absentia in Turkey for Khashoggi murder Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 35a72e7f-7d6c-58ae-8d74-fa1fe18cea27

Hatice Cengiz, centre back to camera, the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi, talks to members of the media outside a court in Istanbul, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The journalist’s remains have not yet been found and the trial in Turkey could provide new information, evidence and insight.

Khashoggi went to the Istanbul consulate in October 2018 for an appointment to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée, but he never walked out.

Cengiz was waiting for Khashoggi outside the consulate and notified authorities when he didn’t come out.

On Friday, the court also heard testimony from six local Turkish employees of the Saudi Consulate with the majority saying they did not see Khashoggi. One employee said he had a brief conversation with him when he first entered the building, however, he did not see him again after that encounter.

A team of 15 Saudi agents, including someone who worked for the crown prince’s office and a forensic doctor, had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate. Turkey, a rival of Saudi Arabia, apparently had the Saudi Consulate bugged and has shared audio of the killing with the CIA, among other agencies. Turkish officials allege the journalist was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw.

Initially, Saudi Arabia provided shifting accounts about Khashoggi’s disappearance. Following the Turkish audio leaks, the kingdom eventually settled on the explanation that the he was killed by rogue officials in a fight.

According to a 2018 report, the CIA determined Khashoggi’s death came at the directive of Salman.

Prior to his murder, Khashoggi had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in the Washington Post. He lived in exile in the United States for about a year as Salman oversaw a crackdown in Saudi Arabia on human rights activists, writers and critics of the war in Yemen.

The trial was adjourned until the end of November. Turkish prosecutors have demanded that the defendants be sentenced to life in prison, if convicted.

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In May, Khashoggi’s family members said they had forgiven his killers. The pardon gave legal reprieve to the five government agents who were sentenced to death in Riyadh.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Khashoggi-AP Saudi officials go on trial in absentia in Turkey for Khashoggi murder Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 35a72e7f-7d6c-58ae-8d74-fa1fe18cea27  Westlake Legal Group Khashoggi-AP Saudi officials go on trial in absentia in Turkey for Khashoggi murder Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 35a72e7f-7d6c-58ae-8d74-fa1fe18cea27

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Saudi Arabia says hajj to go ahead with ‘very limited numbers’ amid coronavirus pandemic

Westlake Legal Group saudi-arabia-says-hajj-to-go-ahead-with-very-limited-numbers-amid-coronavirus-pandemic Saudi Arabia says hajj to go ahead with 'very limited numbers' amid coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 0a46af39-44f2-5ced-b890-44c814f0bb58

Only about 1,000 Muslims already inside Saudi Arabia’s kingdom will be allowed to attend a heavily pared-down version of hajj this year due to the coronavirus, officials announced Tuesday.

Those who want to participate in the much-anticipated pilgrimage to Mecca must be under the age of 65 and agree to quarantine before and after the event.

Officials had weighed canceling the annual pilgrimage for weeks for fear of a resurgence of COVID-19 but settled on allowing a “small and very limited” number of people to attend in an unprecedented decision in the 90-year history of the kingdom.

SAUDI ARABIA WEIGHS CANCELLING ANNUAL MUSLIM PILGRIMAGE AMID SURGE OF NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES

Westlake Legal Group AP20174691086985 Saudi Arabia says hajj to go ahead with 'very limited numbers' amid coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 0a46af39-44f2-5ced-b890-44c814f0bb58

In this March 7, 2020 file photo, workers disinfect the ground around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia after authorities emptied Islam’s holiest site for sterilization over fears of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

“The number, God willing, may be in the thousands. We are in the process of reviewing so it could be 1,000 or less, or a little more,” Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Minister Muhammad Benten said during a virtual press conference Tuesday. The event usually draws more than 2 million people from all over the globe.

Only worshippers of various nationalities inside the kingdom will be allowed to participate, a blow to Muslims worldwide who have saved for the opportunity to make the once-in-a-lifetime trip that is required by Islam for all devotees.

“This is a very sensitive operation and we are working with experts at the Health Ministry,” Benten said, stressing the importance of protecting the lives and health of pilgrims.

SAUDI ARABIA PLEDGES $500M TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Typically, every country is granted a specific number of visas for people to attend hajj that is proportionate to its population of Muslims. In some countries — such as Egypt, Pakistan and India — competitive queues to attend the event require payment of hefty fees, a connection to a local official or simply years of patience.

“It is a wish of every Muslim to perform hajj, but because of COVID-19, it will not be possible this year,” said Maulana Khalid Rashid, chairman of the Islamic Center of India.

Westlake Legal Group AP20174689682149 Saudi Arabia says hajj to go ahead with 'very limited numbers' amid coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 0a46af39-44f2-5ced-b890-44c814f0bb58

In this Aug. 10, 2019 file photo, hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Rashid, who is one of India’s most influential Muslim clerics, blamed China for the disappointing restrictions and insisted that a delegation from India be allowed to participate in the pilgrimage.

“Had China told the world about COVID beforehand, the world would have reacted differently,” he said. “This is an annual ritual and the tradition should not be broken.”

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Other countries, including Egypt, Indonesia and Afghanistan, praised Riyadh’s decision-making that showed awareness of the dangers caused by the virus.

The kingdom has one of the highest infection rates in the Middle East, with more than 161,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 1,307 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP20174691086985 Saudi Arabia says hajj to go ahead with 'very limited numbers' amid coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 0a46af39-44f2-5ced-b890-44c814f0bb58  Westlake Legal Group AP20174691086985 Saudi Arabia says hajj to go ahead with 'very limited numbers' amid coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 0a46af39-44f2-5ced-b890-44c814f0bb58

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Saudi Arabia weighs canceling annual Muslim pilgrimage amid surge of new coronavirus cases

Westlake Legal Group saudi-arabia-weighs-canceling-annual-muslim-pilgrimage-amid-surge-of-new-coronavirus-cases Saudi Arabia weighs canceling annual Muslim pilgrimage amid surge of new coronavirus cases Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 3e99c30d-e57c-5f1c-943b-bf98d01a7914

Saudi Arabia may cancel the highly anticipated Muslim holy pilgrimage to Mecca for the first time in the kingdom’s recent history due to a spike in new cases of coronavirus.

IRAN’S UNDERGROUND CHURCH SURFACES, OFFERING AID DURING CORONAVIRUS SPIKE: REPORT

Westlake Legal Group AP20167578665698 Saudi Arabia weighs canceling annual Muslim pilgrimage amid surge of new coronavirus cases Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 3e99c30d-e57c-5f1c-943b-bf98d01a7914

In this March 7, 2020 file photo, the sun sets at the site of the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as authorities emptied Islam’s holiest site for sterilization over fears of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

On Wednesday, there were 4,919 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed, the highest number of cases in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Ministry of Health.

Over 2.5 million people from around the world flock to Mecca every year for the hajj pilgrimage, but this year, the fate of the gathering remains uncertain.

Already, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei have said their citizens will not be attending the event, and other countries are expected to make a decision soon about attending the pilgrimage scheduled for the end of July.

Saudi Arabia was also supposed to be the destination for the prestigious G20 gathering of world leaders. However, due to the pandemic, November’s gathering will likely be virtual.

Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Abd al-Ali said Monday that lack of social distancing may have contributed to the surge in new infections, which seemed to be slashed in half at the end of May when coronavirus restrictions began to ease.

“The new reported cases include 52% Saudi citizens and 48% non-Saudi residents,” the ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

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More than 7,400,000 foreign workers live in Saudi Arabia, according to the latest census conducted by the Saudi General Authority for Statistics (GaStat), many of whom live in overcrowded communities NBC News reported.

Westlake Legal Group AP20167578665698 Saudi Arabia weighs canceling annual Muslim pilgrimage amid surge of new coronavirus cases Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 3e99c30d-e57c-5f1c-943b-bf98d01a7914  Westlake Legal Group AP20167578665698 Saudi Arabia weighs canceling annual Muslim pilgrimage amid surge of new coronavirus cases Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc article 3e99c30d-e57c-5f1c-943b-bf98d01a7914

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Khashoggi’s sons forgive Saudi killers, sparing 5 execution

Westlake Legal Group khashoggis-sons-forgive-saudi-killers-sparing-5-execution Khashoggi's sons forgive Saudi killers, sparing 5 execution fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fnc/world fnc dbe4dbf8-cef1-54b3-8a9c-cd779a57ffc6 Associated Press article
Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-304b58b09deb423eb2fc9dd16571004d Khashoggi's sons forgive Saudi killers, sparing 5 execution fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fnc/world fnc dbe4dbf8-cef1-54b3-8a9c-cd779a57ffc6 Associated Press article

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The family of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi announced Friday they have forgiven his Saudi killers, giving legal reprieve to the five government agents who’d been sentenced to death for an operation that cast a cloud of suspicion over the kingdom’s crown prince.

“We, the sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive those who killed our father as we seek reward from God Almighty,” wrote one of his sons, Salah Khashoggi, on Twitter.

Salah Khashoggi, who lives in Saudi Arabia and has received financial compensation from the royal court for his father’s killing, explained that forgiveness was extended to the killers during the last nights of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in line with Islamic tradition to offer pardons in cases allowed by Islamic law.

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE ONCE SAID KHASHOGGI COULD BE SILENCED WITH A BULLET

The announcement was largely expected because the trial in Saudi Arabia left the door open for reprieve by ruling in December that the killing was not premeditated. That finding was in line with the government’s official explanation of Khashoggi’s slaying that he was killed accidentally in a brawl by agents trying to forcibly return him to Saudi Arabia.

Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in columns for the Washington Post. He’d been living in exile in the United States for about a year as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman oversaw a crackdown in Saudi Arabia on human rights activists, writers and critics of his devastating war in Yemen.

In October 2017, a team of 15 Saudi agents was dispatched to Turkey to meet Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul for what he thought was an appointment to pick up documents needed to wed his Turkish fiance. The group included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw. The body has not been found. Turkey, a rival of Saudi Arabia, apparently had the Saudi Consulate bugged and has shared audio of the killing with the CIA, among others.

CHILDREN OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI RECEIVING HOMES, ‘BLOOD MONEY’ FROM SAUDIS

The grisly killing, which took place as his Turkish fiancee waited for him outside the building, drew international condemnation of Prince Mohammed.

The 34-year-old prince, who has the support of his father King Salman, denies any involvement. U.S. intelligence agencies, however, say an operation like this could not have happened without his knowledge and the Senate has blamed the crown prince for the murder.

After initially offering shifting accounts of what transpired, and under intense international and Turkish pressure, Saudi prosecutors eventually settled on the explanation that Khashoggi had been killed by Saudi agents in an operation masterminded by two of the crown prince’s top aides at the time. Neither was found guilty in trial, however.

In addition to the five who had been sentenced to execution, the Saudi trial concluded last year that three other people were found guilty of covering up the crime and were sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison. In all, 11 people were put on trial in Saudi Arabia for the killing.

Saudi media outlet Arab News sought to clarify Friday that the announcement made by Khashoggi’s sons may spare the convicted killers from execution, but does not mean they will go unpunished.

In an interview in September with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Prince Mohammed said he takes “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia.” But he insisted that he had no knowledge of the operation, saying he cannot keep close track of the country’s millions of employees.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-304b58b09deb423eb2fc9dd16571004d Khashoggi's sons forgive Saudi killers, sparing 5 execution fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fnc/world fnc dbe4dbf8-cef1-54b3-8a9c-cd779a57ffc6 Associated Press article  Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-304b58b09deb423eb2fc9dd16571004d Khashoggi's sons forgive Saudi killers, sparing 5 execution fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fnc/world fnc dbe4dbf8-cef1-54b3-8a9c-cd779a57ffc6 Associated Press article

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US may curb intelligence sharing with countries that criminalize homosexuality, intel chief says

Westlake Legal Group us-may-curb-intelligence-sharing-with-countries-that-criminalize-homosexuality-intel-chief-says US may curb intelligence sharing with countries that criminalize homosexuality, intel chief says fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 71ed5f43-4f7f-54be-b43c-78924959d5a0

The Trump administration may curb intelligence sharing with partner countries that punish homosexuality in an effort toward decriminalization, according to a report.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell is leading the push for what he called “basic human rights” in an interview this week with The New York Times.

“We can’t just simply make the moral argument and expect others to respond in kind because telling others that it’s the right thing to do doesn’t always work,” he told The Times.

Around 69 countries still criminalize homosexuality, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia with whom the U.S. shares intelligence.

WHO IS RICHARD GRENELL, THE NEW ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE? 

“If a country that we worked in as the United States intelligence community was arresting women because of their gender, we would absolutely do something about it,” Grenell added. “Ultimately, the United States is safer when our partners respect basic human rights.”

“Ultimately, the United States is safer when our partners respect basic human rights.”

— Richard Grenell, acting director of national intelligence

Grenell, who took over as acting director after Trump fired former acting director Joseph Maguire in February, said he has the president’s “total support.”

He didn’t go into further detail but intelligence officials told The Times he is putting together a team to develop ideas.

Grenell was formerly the U.S. ambassador to Germany, is believed to be the first openly gay cabinet member and has made anti-discrimination efforts a centerpiece of his time in the administration, The Times reported.

He told the newspaper foreign aid could also potentially be used as an incentive.

Stuart Milk, who runs the Harvey Milk Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes LGBT equality, said Grenell reached out and he believes he’s “very sincere.”

“He is someone who believes, at the very minimum, decriminalization should happen,” Milk told The Times. “And if we have an administration where people wouldn’t suspect this drive to be coming from, it makes it a little bit more powerful.”

Westlake Legal Group richard-grenell-Reuters US may curb intelligence sharing with countries that criminalize homosexuality, intel chief says fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 71ed5f43-4f7f-54be-b43c-78924959d5a0

Richard Grenell, acting director of national intelligence, is seen in Geneva, Switzerland, March 18, 2019. (Reuters)

Grenell, who has faced some controversy over his appointment, recently chastised Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for requesting more information about reorganization efforts he’s making while temporarily heading DNI and has ignored other Democrats’ calls to hold off on changes.

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Schiff said major changes within the office should only be implemented by a Senate-confirmed director, Politico reported.

“I am not a seat warmer,” Grenell said, according to The Times. “The president asked me to do a job and I am going to do the job to the best of my ability.”

Since he is an acting director, Grenell will likely be out of the job in September or when a permanent director is confirmed, The Times reported.

Westlake Legal Group AP20111629518903 US may curb intelligence sharing with countries that criminalize homosexuality, intel chief says fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 71ed5f43-4f7f-54be-b43c-78924959d5a0  Westlake Legal Group AP20111629518903 US may curb intelligence sharing with countries that criminalize homosexuality, intel chief says fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/cabinet fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 71ed5f43-4f7f-54be-b43c-78924959d5a0

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Saudi Arabia pledges $500M to fight coronavirus pandemic

Westlake Legal Group saudi-arabia-pledges-500m-to-fight-coronavirus-pandemic Saudi Arabia pledges $500M to fight coronavirus pandemic fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world fox-news/politics/elections/fundraising fox-news/politics fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article 05f9194f-5954-5dcf-856d-f7abb2c1fd7a

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Saudi Arabia has pledged $500 million to combat the global coronavirus crisis that has infected more than 2 million people and killed at least 144,000 around the globe, the Middle Eastern nation announced Thursday.

The current leader of the G20, the kingdom also called on other countries, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to help close an $8 billion financing gap it said is needed to fight against the growing pandemic.

SAUDI ARABIA ANNOUNCES YEMEN CEASE-FIRE AFTER CALLS TO STOP FIGHTING DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The Saudi government said in a statement it would allocate $150 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, $150 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, and $200 million to other health organizations and programs.

The funds are expected to pay for emergency and preparedness response, as well as developing and deploying new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

Saudi Arabia said the pledge will also fulfill the needs for international surveillance and coordination, and ensure a sufficient supply of protective equipment for health workers, according to the statement.

Westlake Legal Group Mohammed-bin-Salman-AP Saudi Arabia pledges $500M to fight coronavirus pandemic fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world fox-news/politics/elections/fundraising fox-news/politics fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article 05f9194f-5954-5dcf-856d-f7abb2c1fd7a

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is seen in Moscow, May 30, 2017. Saudi Arabia has pledged a total of $500 million to various organizations to help fight the coronavirus. (Associated Press)

JAILED IRANIAN INSTAGRAM STAR CATCHES CORONAVIRUS IN IRANIAN JAIL

During a virtual meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, held on Thursday, its finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, said the country was in a position of strength, due to its strong financial position and reserves.

The finance minister added during the meeting that priorities for the Saudi government will be getting economic support to those impacted by the virus, as well as providing resources to its health care system, Saudi state news agency SPA reported early Friday, according to Reuters.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Saudi Arabia has seen more than 6,380 coronavirus cases and at least 83 deaths as of early Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-ef6d70e45c7d4ce2a67a91a46b6eea06-1 Saudi Arabia pledges $500M to fight coronavirus pandemic fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world fox-news/politics/elections/fundraising fox-news/politics fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article 05f9194f-5954-5dcf-856d-f7abb2c1fd7a  Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-ef6d70e45c7d4ce2a67a91a46b6eea06-1 Saudi Arabia pledges $500M to fight coronavirus pandemic fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world fox-news/politics/elections/fundraising fox-news/politics fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc David Aaro article 05f9194f-5954-5dcf-856d-f7abb2c1fd7a

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Iran suspected of seizing, releasing Hong Kong-flagged tanker near Strait of Hormuz

Iranian forces are suspected of being behind the seizure of a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.

Authorities say armed boarded and held the tanker off the coast of Iran for a short time before releasing it amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the seizure, though suspicion fell on Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

Westlake Legal Group AP20105721572007-1 Iran suspected of seizing, releasing Hong Kong-flagged tanker near Strait of Hormuz fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc c0e43f7c-60b7-58b2-ad86-2c1ce0927488 Bradford Betz article

Authorities say armed men boarded a Hong Kong-flagged tanker ship off the coast of Iran near the crucial Strait of Hormuz.  (AP)

The tank seizure, which happened Iran’s Ras al-Kuh coast, comes after a private maritime intelligence firm warned of suspicious incidents in recent days near the strait, through which a fifth of all oil is traded. Oil tankers previously have been a target during the tensions.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations organization said in an alert that the vessel “had been boarded by armed men while at anchor.” The organization later confirmed that the ship had been released and was underway under its captain’s control.

Dryad Global, the private maritime intelligence firm that issued the first warnings about suspicious incidents, identified the ship as the Hong Kong-flagged SC Taipei bound for Saudi Arabia. It said the 22 crew members aboard were Chinese.

The ship’s tracking data suggested the armed men took the vessel to Bandar Jask, which the Guard did last year when it took custody of crew members from a Norwegian-owned oil tanker hit by an explosion the U.S. blamed on an Iranian mine.

FEINSTEIN URGES TRUMP TO REVERSE PLAN TO BLOCK IRAN REQUEST FOR $5B IN IMF AID, CLAIMS IT IS IN ‘OUR NATIONAL INTEREST’

The quick release of the ship suggests Iran realized only after the fact it had seized a Chinese vessel, rather than a Western one as in previous incidents. Iran has increasingly relied on China amid U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.

“At a time when China still buys Iranian oil, and Iran has few international friends, such a move would be highly irregular and would not further Iran’s interests,” said Dryad Global, the private maritime intelligence firm that issued the first warnings about suspicious incidents in the area.

Dryad Global previously reported maritime incidents in and around the strait. On March 27, two boats with a raised ladder approached a U.S.-flagged container ship, while Revolutionary Guard vessels approached a ship on April 2, the firm said.

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“The detention of a vessel in the Strait of Hormuz would fit comfortably within previous Iranian intent and capability … and would provide an opportune ‘opening salvo’ in an Iranian attempt to release the pressures the country currently faces,” Dryad said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP20105721572007-1 Iran suspected of seizing, releasing Hong Kong-flagged tanker near Strait of Hormuz fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc c0e43f7c-60b7-58b2-ad86-2c1ce0927488 Bradford Betz article  Westlake Legal Group AP20105721572007-1 Iran suspected of seizing, releasing Hong Kong-flagged tanker near Strait of Hormuz fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc c0e43f7c-60b7-58b2-ad86-2c1ce0927488 Bradford Betz article

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Saudi Arabia announces Yemen cease-fire after calls to stop fighting during coronavirus pandemic

Westlake Legal Group saudi-arabia-announces-yemen-cease-fire-after-calls-to-stop-fighting-during-coronavirus-pandemic Saudi Arabia announces Yemen cease-fire after calls to stop fighting during coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc dad7515c-7960-51c3-aef5-b4aa1d4e2bb2 article
Westlake Legal Group AP20099787493795 Saudi Arabia announces Yemen cease-fire after calls to stop fighting during coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc dad7515c-7960-51c3-aef5-b4aa1d4e2bb2 article

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Saudi officials announced Wednesday a two-week cease-fire against the Houthi rebels in Yemen starting Thursday after the United Nations called for an end to the violence amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal will halt all air, ground and naval hostilities and could pave the way for more long-term talks to end the nearly five-year-long war that has resulted in a humanitarian crisis for millions of people and left more than 100,000 people dead, according to reports by Reuters.

The U.N.’s suggestion comes as Saudi Arabia grapples with 2,932 cases of coronavirus and 41 deaths. Yemen is one of the few countries that has not reported any cases of COVID-19, but officials worry that the ravaged country could be in serious peril if they are struck by an outbreak of the virus.

Congress has tried to suspend the United States’ support to the Saudi coalition, but to no avail, as the group continues to bombard Houthi forces, which are supported by Iran.

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Violence as a result of the proxy war seemed to ebb in Yemen after the two groups engaged in back-channel talks late last year but chances of a peace deal were disrupted by recent spurts of bombings in the region.

Westlake Legal Group AP20099787493795 Saudi Arabia announces Yemen cease-fire after calls to stop fighting during coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc dad7515c-7960-51c3-aef5-b4aa1d4e2bb2 article  Westlake Legal Group AP20099787493795 Saudi Arabia announces Yemen cease-fire after calls to stop fighting during coronavirus pandemic Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc dad7515c-7960-51c3-aef5-b4aa1d4e2bb2 article

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Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event

Westlake Legal Group saudi-arabia-warns-pilgrims-to-wait-on-booking-hajj-amid-coronavirus-has-not-cancelled-holy-event Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article

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It’s the biggest holy convergence in the Muslim world, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge around the Middle East and around the world, Saudi Arabia has called on pilgrims to halt booking for the hajj amid the uncertainty.

On Wednesday, Hajj Minister Mohammed Banten stated that the Kingdom was concerned about the safety of the millions endeavoring to make the treks to Mecca and Medina, and urged people to “wait before concluding contracts,” according to the BBC.

Westlake Legal Group 52edc42d5d9e4066bf7126fdbbfbe025 Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article

Sept. 11, 2016: Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty) (The Associated Press)

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The annual event typically draws around 2 million Muslims from across the globe and is slated to take place throughout July and August. While it is yet to be canceled, Saudi officials did call off the Umra – a somewhat shorter holy expedition to Mecca – which worshippers are normally permitted to do throughout the year.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is deemed a mandatory act of worship for all financially and physically capable adult Muslims, of all sects, to complete at least once in the span of their lives.

The hajj is a physically demanding and often costly pilgrimage that draws the faithful from around the world.

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The Middle East has over 75,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of those in Iran, and over 3,400 deaths. Iran’s health ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said Wednesday that the virus had killed another 138 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,036 amid 47,593 confirmed cases.

Saudi Arabia has recorded at least 1,720 positive coronavirus cases and 16 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 01ed7647-hajj-coronavirus-cropped-158am Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article  Westlake Legal Group 01ed7647-hajj-coronavirus-cropped-158am Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article

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Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event

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It’s the biggest holy convergence in the Muslim world, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge around the Middle East and around the world, Saudi Arabia has called on pilgrims to halt booking for the hajj amid the uncertainty.

On Wednesday, Hajj Minister Mohammed Banten stated that the Kingdom was concerned about the safety of the millions endeavoring to make the treks to Mecca and Medina, and urged people to “wait before concluding contracts,” according to the BBC.

Westlake Legal Group 52edc42d5d9e4066bf7126fdbbfbe025 Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article

Sept. 11, 2016: Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty) (The Associated Press)

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The annual event typically draws around 2 million Muslims from across the globe and is slated to take place throughout July and August. While it is yet to be canceled, Saudi officials did call off the Umra – a somewhat shorter holy expedition to Mecca – which worshippers are normally permitted to do throughout the year.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is deemed a mandatory act of worship for all financially and physically capable adult Muslims, of all sects, to complete at least once in the span of their lives.

The hajj is a physically demanding and often costly pilgrimage that draws the faithful from around the world.

GET THE FOX NEWS APP 

The Middle East has over 75,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of those in Iran, and over 3,400 deaths. Iran’s health ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said Wednesday that the virus had killed another 138 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,036 amid 47,593 confirmed cases.

Saudi Arabia has recorded at least 1,720 positive coronavirus cases and 16 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 01ed7647-hajj-coronavirus-cropped-158am Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article  Westlake Legal Group 01ed7647-hajj-coronavirus-cropped-158am Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to wait on booking Hajj amid coronavirus, has not cancelled holy event Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc fe6c7f18-b484-5483-8900-811b27d55626 article

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