Biden Admin Tries To Shield Saudi Crown Prince From Lawsuit Over Gruesome Murder

  • Post category:News / US News


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The Biden administration sought to grant Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immunity in the ongoing lawsuit aiming to hold him accountable for his alleged role in the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The U.S. intelligence community in 2021 released a report finding that bin Salman played a decisive role in the killingand dismembering of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, The New York Times reported. Khashoggi’s fianceé Hatice Cengiz filed a civil lawsuit aiming at holding the crown prince accountable, but the virtual dictator was named prime minister in September which, under head of state immunity laws, could render him immune from prosecution.

The State Department said bin Salman should remain “immune while in office” in a letter addressed to the Department of Justice on Thursday.

“In making this immunity determination, the Department of State takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” the letter continued.

While bin Salman’s father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, remains the head of state, world leaders treat bin Salman himself as the de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, according to the NYT. The king’s decision to name his 37-year-old son prime minister, a title historically reserved for the monarch, consolidated power into bin Salman’s hands.

Khasshogi, a Saudi national, fled to the U.S. and was known for harsh criticism of bin Salman’s policies while working for the Washington Post. In October 2018, he traveled to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to seek documentation required to marry his Turkish fianceé, where Saudi operatives killed and dismembered him.

The Saudi government has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s death, but bin Salman later accepted symbolic responsibility as the country’s effective ruler, according to the NYT.

The Biden administration immediately received backlash from human rights advocates arguing that the administration effectively forestalled any potential for accountability on bin Salman’s part, the NYT reported.

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The Biden administration and Saudi government have been at loggerheads in recent months regarding discrepancies over oil prices. In July, President Joe Biden, who called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” due in part for its human rights abuses, was photographed giving bin Salman a fist bump ahead of a meeting where he implored the kingdom to boost oil production.

A district court previously requested the U.S. government recommend immunity for bin Salman on the grounds of internationally recognized head of state immunity laws, arguing that the lawsuit could infringe on the kingdom’s self-determination rights, according to the letter.

“The sovereign interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that might be impaired should this case proceed without its participation,” Judge John D. Bates said, setting a deadline of Nov. 17 for a response from the State Department.

The Saudi Embassy, White House and State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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