Erosions of human rights, he said, “are being worsened by Covid-19, which autocratic governments have used as a pretext to target their critics.”

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U.N.’s Khashoggi Investigator Describes ‘Brazen’ Saudi Threat

A senior Saudi official made a public threat against a United Nations investigator looking into the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to the investigator, who decried the intimidation and violence she said defenders of human rights faced in carrying out their work.

The United Nations investigator, Agnès Callamard, detailed in a series of posts on Twitter on Friday how a “brazen” threat against her by the Saudi government official “took place in a high level diplomatic setting and it was made public, confirmed by the U.N.”

She said that the threat against her and “far greater daily intimidation and violence stalk all those on the front lines of human rights advocacy,” and called out those employing “bully boy tactics.”

“States must understand that behaving as thugs in New York and Geneva is no more acceptable there than in other countries’ capitals, or in their own hometowns,” she wrote. “Such a demand is essential as we are confronting a world of heightened tensions reminiscent of the Cold War era.”

In a post on Twitter, he said that it had come to his attention that Ms. Callamard and the United Nations “believe I somehow made a veiled threat against her more than a year ago.”

“I reject this suggestion in the strongest terms,” he wrote in a subsequent post. “While I cannot recall the exact conversations, I never would have desired or threatened any harm upon a U.N.-appointed individual, or anyone for that matter.”

He also added that he was “disheartened that anything I have said could be interpreted as a threat,” maintaining that he was “an advocate for human rights.”

Ms. Callamard first disclosed the threats made against her in an interview with The Guardian this week. Ms. Callamard said a colleague had relayed to her that a senior Saudi official, in a meeting in Geneva in January 2020 with United Nations officials, had threatened to have her “taken care of.”

she recounted harrowing details of his murder and dismemberment, and the cover-up of his killing by a team of Saudi operatives. Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist who was a columnist for the Washington Post and a Virginia resident, was assassinated inside the consulate in October 2018.

Western intelligence agencies had already concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, had ordered the killing. But the United Nations report offered in stark detail a recounting of the brutality behind the attack.

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For Biden, Deliberation and Caution, Maybe Overcaution, on the World Stage

But the early indications suggest that Mr. Biden is moving slower on the world stage than he is at home. And that is partly rooted in his belief, his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in an interview, that the United States will regain its global influence only after it has tamed the pandemic, restored economic growth and reset its relationships with allies.

The most telling of his decisions centers on Saudi Arabia. After banning the arms sales to halt what he called a “catastrophic” war in Yemen, Mr. Biden released an intelligence report about Prince Mohammed’s role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist, and imposed new penalties on the crown prince’s personal royal guard, the so-called Rapid Intervention Force. But Mr. Biden stopped at the next step — barring travel by or threatening criminal prosecution of the 35-year-old crown prince.

The president had not told his staff in advance whether he favored direct action, even though he said in the campaign that the Saudi leadership had “no redeeming social value.”

Mr. Sullivan said he and his staff went to Mr. Biden with “a broad-based recommendation that a recalibration of the relationship, rather than a rupture of the relationship, was the right course of action.”

Mr. Biden, Mr. Sullivan said, “pressed us on our assumptions as he worked through the pros and cons of every aspect of the policy,” including the staff’s conclusion that keeping a channel open to the crown prince was the best path to “resolving the war in Yemen.”

But the final decision was a reminder, other aides said, that Mr. Biden emerged from his three decades in the Senate with both a belief in nurturing even the most difficult of alliances — and a dose of realism that the United States could not prevent the crown prince from becoming the next king.

“We deal, unfortunately, every single day with leaders of countries who are responsible for actions we find either objectionable or abhorrent, whether it’s Vladimir Putin, whether it’s Xi Jinping,” Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state and Mr. Biden’s longest-serving foreign policy adviser, said on Wednesday on “PBS NewsHour.”

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