CO Governor’s Attorney worked to free Saudi Convict

The office of the Colorado Governor’s office, headed by Democrat John Hickenlooper, may be on the brink of a major scandal involving attempts to release a Saudi prisoner. Homaidan al-Turki was convicted in 2006 for keeping a sex slave locked up in his residence. He repeatedly molested her over a period of years.

You might remember that earlier this year, the Executive Director for Colorado’s prisons, Tom Clements, denied a request to release al-Turki and have him sent back to Saudi Arabia. Eight days later, Clements was shot dead shortly after opening his front door on March 19, 2013.

Clements: Denied al-Turki's release; murdered one week later.

Clements: Denied al-Turki’s release; murdered one week later.

Some shocking new details are coming out about efforts by Hickenlooper’s lawyer and chief of staff to have al-Turki released. In fact, reports indicate that he initially persuaded Clements to release al-Turki.

Via Fox 31 in Denver:

A number of letters and emails, dating back to July 2012, also show that two high-level members of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s cabinet, Chief of Staff Roxane White and General Counsel Jack Finlaw, were involved in conversations that eventually led to Clements signing a transfer order for al-Turki — a transfer order that was never acted on and eventually rescinded after federal investigators informed members of the administration about al-Turki’s presumed terrorist ties. {emphasis ours}

As we reported in March, the Saudis have gone to great lengths to have al-Turki released:

Back to the Fox 31 report:

The al-Turki family is one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest and most powerful (which explains why Colorado Attorney General John Suthers traveled to meet with King Abdullah and the al-Turki family in Riyadh back in November 2006 to ease concerns about al-Turki’s fair treatment within the Colorado criminal justice system after he was convicted).

Three months later after the initial request, on Oct. 30, al-Turki’s Denver attorney, Hal Haddon, wrote a similar letter to Hickenlooper and Finlaw, who responded on Nov. 2 that he was “forwarding the application” to Clements.

“We would prefer that you handle this rather than have it come across the governor’s desk,” wrote Finlaw, who, as the governor’s lawyer, is the gatekeeper for any and all outside requests being made of Hickenlooper and his administration.

Ten days later, Finlaw emailed again to inform Haddon that the request was being prioritized, adding “we will work to get this done.”

Finlaw told Haddon that he hoped to have the transfer signed by December 1, after getting input from prosecutors. {emphasis ours}

Jack Finlaw: Documents show he  pressured Clements to release al-Turki.

Jack Finlaw: Documents show he pressured Clements to release al-Turki.

We are talking about a man who was convicted of heinous crimes being set free and Hickenlooper’s inner circle was obviously part of that effort if these reports are correct. Perhaps as equally disturbing is the strong desire of the Saudis to have al-Turki released. They don’t want him freed because they want to be the ones to administer justice; they want him freed because he is highly regarded.

This would indicate that the Saudis don’t just regard such a criminal highly; they also regard a man suspected of having terror ties, highly as well.

Fox 31:

Finlaw emailed Clements asking for a decision, noting that Haddon was getting ready to call Hickenlooper directly. Two weeks later, on Jan. 13, 2013, Clements bumped into one of Haddon’s colleagues, Norman Mueller, and informed him that he was approving the transfer.

A day later, on Jan. 14, Clements signed the order directing that al-Turki be transferred out of the Limon Correctional Center and into the custody of the Saudi government. {emphasis ours}

The Fox 31 report goes on to say that the FBI intervened because of al-Turki’s connections to terrorism. That March 11th letter to al-Turki in which the inmate’s transfer to Saudi Arabia was denied was then signed by Clements.

Focus on a possible connection between al-Turki and Clements’ murder initially subsided after a shootout two days later in Texas ended with the death of Evan Ebel, a member of 211 Crew, a white supremacist prison gang. Evidence overwhelmingly implicated him in Clements’ death. As time has passed, questions about al-Turki’s involvement actually seem to be growing, not going away. In fact, al-Turki is still under investigation for his involvement. There are also some other figures who are finding themselves involved in the al-Turki case – and they can be found at the highest levels of the Governor’s office.

Al-Turki: Documents show Governor's lawyer demanded his release.

Al-Turki: Documents show Governor’s lawyer demanded his release.

According the the Fox 31 report, in an email to al-Turki’s attorney (Haddon), Finlaw said it was ok for al-Turki to be informed of the “good news” that Clements would be releasing him.

Based on this reality – and assuming al-Turki was told he would be released – an important question needs to be answered: Did al-Turki feel double-crossed by Clements when the latter did the opposite of what al-Turki was told Clements was going to do?

If al-Turki is shown to have been involved in Clements’ murder (still being investigated), did Clements’ reversal (prompted rightfully by the FBI) have anything to do with that involvement?

Had al-Turki never been told he was going to be freed, would the murder of Clements ever have taken place? Did he feel empowered by having the goods on Hickenlooper’s office? Would he have been more emboldened to consider a hit on Clements?

In the days after Clements’ murder, it was learned that Evan Ebel had been released from prison due to a technical error, weeks before that murder. It was also learned that Ebel’s father (Jack) and Hickenlooper were “old friends” according to the Governor. In an interview with KUSA-TV 9 in Denver one day after Ebel was killed, Hickenlooper was understandably shaken based on his connection to both Clements and Ebel but he became increasingly defensive in response to questions about Ebel’s release, which Hickenlooper asserted came after Ebel had served his complete sentence. In reality, Ebel was released years earlier than he should have been.

Hickenlooper loses his composure in this exchange shortly after being asked a question at 3:25 mark, via GOP USA:

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