U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today made this statement after learning the Tunisian government has granted in-person access to Ali Ani al Harzi, a suspect in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Graham, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies, which oversees American assistance to Tunisia, and Chambliss, the vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have been working closely to push for American access to the suspect.
Earlier this week, Graham wrote the Tunisian government making clear that "providing access to this suspect is of the highest importance to me and many other members of Congress" and "the Tunisian response to this situation is of the utmost importance and could have profound impacts on the relations between our two countries moving forward." Chambliss last week met with the FBI to emphasize the need for direct access to this suspect and any other individuals related to the Benghazi attack.
Graham and Chambliss also spoke with the Tunisian Secretary of State to reaffirm the need for American access to this suspect.
Graham and Chambliss today said:
"We are very pleased the Tunisian government is working with American investigators to allow in person access to Ali Ani al Harzi. Under this arrangement the interviews will be under Tunisian supervision and consistent with their sovereignty, and meets the needs of our investigative team.
"Allowing American investigators in person access will make the interview more meaningful and is a welcome breakthrough in our efforts to find the perpetrators of the Benghazi Consulate attacks. This tight collaboration between our countries shows the growing strength of our partnership.
"It is unfortunate it has taken this long to get an in-person interview as time is of the essence in cases like this. We hope our interview of Ali Ani al Harzi will bear fruit and we can bring to justice those responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.
"Tunisia is where the Arab Spring began and these latest events reaffirm the growing alliance between our two countries. We look forward to working with the Tunisian government to strengthen the ties between our two countries."