Congresswomen ask US government to probe Saudi Arabia death

AP News
Posted: Jul 10, 2015 2:02 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire congressional delegation members are urging the U.S. State Department to investigate the death of an American in Saudi Arabia.

The body of Christopher Cramer, of Milford, New Hampshire, was found beneath the third-floor balcony of the Sahara Makarim Hotel in Tabuk on Jan. 15. He was working for Merrimack-based Kollsman Inc. to help the Saudis with thermal optical devices, part of the country's missile systems.

Family and friends said just before he died, the 50-year-old Cramer sent a text message to his roommate in Milford saying he thought something bad was going to happen and asking him to contact the State Department.

The death was first reported as a suicide by Saudi Arabian officials. Cramer's family later hired Dr. Michael Baden, the recently retired medical examiner for New York State Police, to perform an autopsy, and he determined it was a homicide. He suggests Cramer was severely beaten before he fell or was pushed off the balcony.

"A person could stab himself and then jump," but to damage his body the way Cramer's body was damaged was not possible, Baden told The Telegraph of Nashua in a story published Friday. "He had suffered fractures before the fall."

The Telegraph reported a toxicology report showed there were no sign of drugs or alcohol in Cramer's body.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen first wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in March asking for an investigation and a briefing. She also recently contacted the White House, spokesman Ryan Nickel said.

"This recent autopsy is further confirmation that Christopher Cramer's death needs a thorough investigation," Nickel said in a statement Friday.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster have been in touch with the Cramer family, Kollsman and the State Department.

State Department spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff said it has offered to assist Saudi authorities with any investigation into Cramer's death but can't investigate an incident overseas without the permission of the host government. As of Friday, the U.S. had not received a request for assistance, she said.

"We continue to engage with the Saudis on this case, and our offer of assistance stands," Pfaff said in an emailed statement.


Associated Press writer Rik Stevens in Concord contributed to this report.