Saudi funding to American universities, including Northwestern, comes under scrutiny


Daily file photo by David Lee

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Alan Perez, Campus Editor

Northwestern received $14.4 million from a Saudi government science and technology research organization, according to data from the U.S. Education Department.

The revelation comes after the death of a prominent journalist carried out by government officials sparked renewed outrage toward the regime earlier this month.

The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, a government research institution, gave the money to Northwestern in the form of contracts and a $45,000 monetary gift, according to the data. The Saudi government gave money to other prominent universities, including Stanford, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley.

The ties have come under fire after Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi writer for the Washington Post, was killed inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey. The kingdom, in changing and sometimes contradictory accounts, has described the incident as one carried out by rogue government operatives, though Turkish officials and others suspect high-level Saudi officials ordered the Khashoggi’s death, including the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has denied the accusation.

Some universities have said they are reconsidering their Saudi funding. Northwestern spokesman Bob Rowley said a “vast majority” of the money funds basic faculty science grants, but did not answer questions regarding whether the University is reviewing its own Saudi relationship.

Khashoggi was on self-imposed exile and was critical of the Saudi government in his columns for The Washington Post. U.S. President Donald Trump, after seeming to accept the kingdom’s explanation, called the incident “the worst cover up ever” last week.

This story was updated at 10:30 p.m. with information from University spokesperson Bob Rowley.

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