US government declares Saudi crown prince exempt from Khashoggi lawsuit

Jamal Khashoggi’s former fiancée immediately denounced the Biden administration’s Thursday decision that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune from legal action related to the journalist’s slaying.

In October 2018, Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to US intelligence, Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s longtime de facto ruler, had ordered the operation.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s ex-fiance, posted on Twitter moments after the news broke that “Jamal died again today.” Later, she added: “We hoped that the United States would act as a beacon for justice. Money came first once more. Jamal and I are unaware of the existence of this planet.”
On Thursday evening after office hours, it was impossible to reach a representative of the Saudi consulate in Washington for comment.

According to long-standing and well-established norms of customary international law, the State Department reached this decision legally, according to a written statement from the White House National Security Council. It is unrelated to the merits of the case,
Further inquiries were sent to the State and Justice Departments by the spokeswoman.
Attorneys for the Justice Department stated in a statement submitted to the US District Court for the District of Columbia that “the notion of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law.”

As the current leader of a foreign country, defendant bin Salman “enjoys head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts as a result of that role,” according to Justice Department lawyers, the executive branch of the US government, referring to the Biden Administration.

Prince Mohammed was appointed prime minister by Saudi King Salman in a royal decree issued at the end of September. A Saudi official claimed that this was in keeping with the duties that the crown prince was already carrying out.

The Crown Prince’s attorneys stated in a petition to have the lawsuit dismissed on October 3 that “The Royal Order leaves no doubt that the Crown Prince is entitled to status-based immunity,” citing past instances where the United States had recognised immunity for a foreign head of state.

During his July visit to Saudi Arabia to address energy and security matters, Biden received criticism for giving the crown prince a fist bump. According to the White House, Biden told Prince Mohammed that Khashoggi’s murder was his fault.

The prince, whose name is abbreviated MbS, initially denied ordering Khashoggi’s murder but then admitted that it happened “under my watch.”

In writings for the Washington Post, Khashoggi had criticised the crown prince’s policies. He had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get the documents he required to wed Turkish national Cengiz.

“It is incredibly ironic that President Biden, who told the American people he would do all in his power to hold MBS accountable, has ensured MBS can avoid accountability on his own. Trump’s administration did not even attempt this “According to a written declaration by Sarah Lee Whitson, who represents Democracy for the Arab World Now.

 

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