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American University drops Khashoggi from Board

WASHINGTON -- American University, which named its new sports complex after Adnan Khashoggi when the controversial Saudi financier pledged $5 million to the facility, will drop Khashoggi from its Board of Trustees, a university official said Thursday.

Khashoggi is jailed in Bern, Switzerland, while authorities await a U.S. request to extradite him to face charges of racketeering, fraud and obstruction of justice for allegedly helping Ferdinand Marcos funnel millions of dollars out of the Philippines when he was president of that nation.

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Anita Gottlieb, assistant vice president of university relations, said through a spokeswoman Thursday that Khashoggi's term will not be renewed when the board meets Friday.

University President Richard Berendzen, who referred calls to Gottlieb Thursday, said earlier in an interview with The Washington Post that Khasoggi is being dropped because of his inactivity on the board, not because of his indictment.

'Now he may not even be aware he is on the board. I wouldn't be surprised about that,' said Berendzen, who called the decision to drop Khashoggi 'absolutely not connected' to the indictment.

Khashoggi also was a central figure in the Iran arms-Contra aid scandal during the Reagan administration.

Khashoggi, once reputed to have been among the world's richest men, was named a trustee at American in 1983, attended just one meeting, and was reappointed in 1986. His second term expires Friday.

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American University's Adnan Khashoggi Sports and Convocation Center is a $20.5 million group of buildings completed in January 1988. It includes Bender Arena, where the school's basketball team plays, Butler Pavilion and a mini-mall.

A column in the school's newspaper this week called keeping Khashoggi's name on the sports complex an 'embarrassment that continues to haunt' the school.

'There's something about innocent until proved guilty,' Berendzen said. 'Just suppose you were to remove the name and two weeks later he was acquitted.'

Berendzen said in his 1986 book 'Is My Armor Straight?' that he had actively pursued Khashoggi in an effort to raise money for the school.

'Here's a guy that came along at a critical time and gave us some money that we needed. He never asked for or demanded anything,' Berendzen told the Post. 'That's more than I can say for some other (donors) who want me to hire their uncle or admit somebody to law school.'

School officials refused to say how much money Khashoggi has actually donated.

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