US determines Saudi Crown Prince is immune in case brought by Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée | CNN Politics



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The Biden administration has decided that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be acquitted in a lawsuit brought by the fiancee of a Washington Post reporter. Jamal KhashoggiThe administration has said that Murder at the behest of a prince.

The request was filed by Justice Department lawyers at the State Department’s request because bin Salman had recently been made Saudi prime minister and, as a result, was entitled to immunity as a foreign head of government, the request said. The filing was late Thursday night ahead of a court deadline for the Justice Department to present its case to the court on the question of immunity and other arguments made by Rajkumar for dismissing the case.

“Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman is the current head of government and is accordingly immune from prosecution,” calling the killing “heinous”.

This decision is likely to provoke angry reactions. The White House hoped President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in July would put rocky US-Saudi relations back on track, but relations have soured since then.

The relationship is being reassessed, the White House said, after the administration directly insulted the US over oil production cuts by Saudi-led OPEC+. Members of Congress, already enraged by the oil cuts and demanding a revaluation, will only become more enraged if Prince is granted immunity.

Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatis Cengiz and DAWN, a Washington-based human rights organization founded by the late journalist, initially filed the lawsuit against Bin Salman and 28 others in October 2020 in Washington, DC, federal district court. They allege that a team of assassins “kidnapped, tied up, drugged, tortured and killed” Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and then dismembered his body. His remains have never been found.

DAWN’s executive director, Sarah Leah Whitson, called the immunity request a “shocking result” and a “huge concession” to Saudi Arabia.

“It’s really beyond ironic that President Biden has basically promised exoneration to Mohammed bin Salman, which is the exact opposite of what he promised to hold Jamal Khashoggi’s killers accountable,” Whitson told CNN.

A US Intelligence Community Report As Biden took office in February 2021 over Khashoggi’s murder, Bin Salman approved a capture or kill operation against the journalist that ended in his murder and dismemberment.

Bin Salman denied the charges and sought immunity from prosecution, claiming that his various government and royal positions granted him immunity and placed him outside the jurisdiction of US courts.

But as crown prince, bin Salman was not entitled to sovereign immunity that would normally only include a head of state, head of government or foreign minister, none of whom was bin Salman.

Then, the Biden administration was expected to weigh the question of immunity last month, days before bin Salman was promoted to prime minister by his father, King Salman, who would normally hold that position.

It was a “ploy” to secure the so-called head of state immunity, DAWN’s Whitson said, after which the Justice Department asked for a delay.

Now that bin Salman is prime minister, “the government should recommend that he is entitled to immunity,” said William Dodge, a law professor at the University of California, Davis Law School, who previously wrote that the prince is not entitled to immunity.

“It’s almost automatic,” Dodge said, “I think he’s been appointed prime minister to get out of it.”

The State Department was not required to make an immunity determination but was invited by the Court to do so. A spokesman said his request to grant immunity to bin Salman was based on longstanding common and international law, rather than reflecting current diplomatic relations or efforts.

“This notice of immunity does not reflect an assessment of the merits of the case. It doesn’t say anything about broader policy or the state of the relationship,” a department spokeswoman told CNN. “It was a perfectly legal decision.”

The Saudi embassy in Washington, DC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bin Salman also claimed immunity Hair on him Saad Aljabari, a former Saudi counter-terrorism official, accused Khashoggi of sending a hit squad to kill the prince in Canada days after his murder. That suit was dismissed by the same court on other grounds.

“Having broken a promise to punish MBS for Khashoggi’s murder, the Biden administration effectively issued MBS a license to kill more opponents if not shielded from accountability in US courts, declaring he would never be held accountable,” Aljabri’s son, Khalid. , CNN said Thursday.

The White House was widely criticized for Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in July, when the president awkwardly fist-bumped the crown prince after saying he was still responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.

Biden said he raised the question of the assassination at the beginning of their meeting and continued to deny that Prince was responsible.

“I was straight and forthright when discussing it. I have made my views clear,” Biden said.

A four-page US Intelligence Community report released in 2021 said a 15-man Saudi team in Istanbul when Khashoggi was assassinated in October 2018 included members associated with the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court. Led by a close adviser to bin Salman, as well as “seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s elite personal protective detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force.”

The report noted that bin Salman saw Khashoggi as a threat to the state and “endorsed him by using violent measures if necessary to silence him.”

The intelligence report said they had no visibility of when the Saudis decided to harm the father of five. “Although Saudi officials may have pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi, we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him,” it said.

Last month, on the fourth anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, DAWN called on the Biden administration to release and release the full intelligence report on his assassination.

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Cengiz, alleged that when Khashoggi tried to obtain the necessary documents for marriage at the embassy in Washington, DC, the authorities “created an opportunity to assassinate him.”

They told him the only place he could get the documents he needed was the consulate in Istanbul, she said. Two weeks before his appointment on October 2, 2018, the day he was assassinated, Khashoggi and Genghis were married in a religious Islamic ceremony, the lawsuit said.

“The administration’s decision to encourage the courts to uphold MBS’s sovereign immunity is another disappointing chapter in a series of failures to hold the Saudi leadership accountable for the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” said a senior congressional Democratic aide. “Actions like these contradict the administration’s hollow promises of accountability and fly in the face of our own intelligence assessment of MBS’ involvement.”

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