A former top aide to ex-US president Barack Obama says Saudi Arabia gave a delegation of United States officials visiting the kingdom for the first time large suitcases containing jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Obama’s speechwriter and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes wrote in his newly-released memoir that Saudi authorities gave White House aides the suitcases on their arrival to Riyadh in June 2009.
In the book, entitled “The World As It Is,” Rhodes explained that after landing in Saudi Arabia, the US officials were taken by golf carts to “identical housing units amid the rolling desert.”
“When I opened the door to my unit, I found a large suitcase,” he wrote. “Inside were jewels.”
Rhodes explained that he initially thought it was a bribe aimed at him because he was Obama’s speechwriter; but he later found that others in the delegation had received “suitcases full of jewels” as…