In the Shadows of Authoritarianism
Egyptian and Saudi Transnational Repression in the U.S
This report investigates how two U.S. allies — Egypt and Saudi Arabia — are increasingly attempting to curtail fundamental rights and freedoms on U.S. soil, a phenomenon known as transnational repression (TNR). Building on survey data from 72 individuals with professional and/or personal ties with Egypt or Saudi Arabia and in-depth interviews with victims, our report expands the scope of what is understood to be transnational repression, mapping novel tactics such as the use of state-supported litigation and the detention of Americans abroad with the aim of silencing free expression in the United States. We argue that there is no “typical” victim of TNR and that focusing solely on Egyptian and Saudi diaspora communities belies the true scope of this growing phenomenon. We also find that TNR creates a chilling effect that leads to lost opportunities, making it impossible to know the full extent of its impact. Though entire communities across the United States are under threat, the legislation addressing TNR had been largely piecemeal prior to the introduction of the Transnational Repression Policy Act, and the distrust of federal and local law enforcement among a demographic at high risk has created obstacles to addressing TNR. We conclude by offering recommendations to address these issues.