Jamal Khashoggi: Washington grants Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, immunity from court over the killing of the opposition journalist

Jamal Khashoggi: Washington grants Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, immunity from court over the killing of the opposition journalist
Jamal Khashoggi: Washington grants Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, immunity from court over the killing of the opposition journalist

Jamal Khashoggi: Washington grants Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, immunity from court over the killing of the opposition journalist

  • Oliver Slough and Alice Davis
  • BBC News

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Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed in his country’s consulate in Turkey in 2018, and his body has yet to be found.

The United States has determined that Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, enjoys immunity from the lawsuit brought against him by the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

US intelligence said it believes Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered his assassination.

But the US State Department said in court filings that bin Salman enjoyed immunity because of his new role as prime minister.

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, tweeted that “Jamal died again today” when the verdict came out.

Khadija and the Democracy for the Arab World Now (DON) interest group founded by Khashoggi are demanding unspecified damages from the crown prince in the United States for the murder of her fiancé.

The ad accused the Saudi leader and his officials of “kidnapping, detaining, drugging, torturing and murdering US-based journalist and pro-democracy advocate Jamal Khashoggi.”

Prince Mohammed was appointed crown prince in 2017 by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. In September of this year, the 37-year-old was handed over as prime minister.

The prince denies any role in Khashoggi’s assassination.

Attorneys for the US Department of Justice said the Saudi crown prince, as the “current head of a foreign government, enjoys the immunity of a head of state before US courts by virtue of that office.”

“The principle of the immunity of the head of state is firmly enshrined in customary international law,” said Justice Department lawyers.

However, the Biden administration wanted to emphasize that the decision is not an acquittal.

“This is a State Department legal decision under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law,” a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council said in a written statement.

He added that the decision “has nothing to do with the facts”.

Saudi Arabia said the dead journalist, writing for the Washington Post, was killed in a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to persuade him to return to the kingdom.

However, US officials said the CIA had concluded with “medium to high certainty” that Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved.

The killing caused an uproar around the world and damaged the image of Prince Mohammed and his country.

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Peace with fists between President Biden and the Saudi Crown Prince last July during the US President’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

It also led to a major downturn in US-Saudi Arabia relations, as Biden pledged to make the kingdom a “pariah” during his 2019 campaign for the presidency.

Biden refused to speak to Mohammed bin Salman for his first term after taking office.

But the US president said in the summer he wanted to “rebalance” ties ahead of a July visit to Saudi Arabia.

The visit, during which he was filmed shaking hands with the crown prince, was criticized as an endorsement by the Saudi government after Khashoggi’s assassination.

Sarah Leah Whitson, a spokeswoman for the Down Group, tweeted: “President Biden has confirmed that Mohammed bin Salman can evade accountability, even though it was President Biden who promised the American people to do everything possible to… to hold him accountable.”


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