Watch CBSN Live

Activist in Norway says CIA passed on warning that Saudi Arabia might be targeting him

A Facebook profile photo shows Palestinian-born activist Iyad el-Baghdadi, who lives in Norway. Facebook

Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- A Palestinian-born activist living in Norway under asylum protection has reportedly been whisked away to a secure location by Norwegian security after the CIA informed officials there that he could be in danger.

Iyad el-Baghdadi, who is outspoken on Twitter and was researching several issues related to Saudi Arabia, was quoted by Norway's news agency NTB as saying Norwegian officials came to his home April 25 and told him he may be in danger and took him to a safe place.

He says it's unclear what the threat was about, but that "something came on the radar of the CIA."

The Guardian first reported the incident, saying the CIA had warned Norway el-Baghdadi faced a potential threat from Saudi Arabia.

"The way I understood it was, the Saudis have a crosshairs on me, but there is no idea of what they are going to do," el-Baghdadi told the Guardian in a phone interview. He said the Norwegian officials "assured me that they are taking it very seriously."

"They came prepared," the activist said, noting that the Norwegian officials showed up with two separate teams -- one to drive him away and another to ensure they weren't followed.

El-Baghdadi acknowledged on Twitter Tuesday a threat to his safety. 

The apparent threat to the activist has emerged as the conservative Islamic kingdom continues to deal with diplomatic backlash over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Senior members of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have been accused of the murder, and while the Trump administration has declined to pin any blame on the heir to the throne personally, the CIA has concluded that he likely ordered the killing.

El-Baghdadi has been an outspoken critic of the crown prince. 

Saudi fugitives flee U.S. justice system 07:13
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.