The Biden administration has decided that the fiancee of the Washington Post reporter should grant immunity to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Jamal Khashoggiwhat the management said killed on the prince’s orders.
The request stated that bin Salman was taken to the court by lawyers of the Ministry of Justice at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as bin Salman was recently the Saudi prime minister and, as a result, was entitled to immunity as a foreign head of government. It was filed late Thursday night, just before the court’s deadline for the Justice Department’s immunity issue and the prince’s other claims to drop the case in court to give its views.
The file states that “Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is the incumbent head of the government and is therefore exempt from this case”, while the murder is described as “heinous”.
The decision is likely to provoke an angry reaction. The White House had hoped for the July trip. President Joe Biden He said Saudi Arabia would get the difficult US-Saudi relationship back on track, but relations have only continued to deteriorate since then.
The White House said the relationship was being reassessed following the oil production cut by the Saudi-led OPEC+, which the administration saw as a direct insult to the United States. Members of Congress, already enraged by the oil cut and calling for a reconsideration, will likely only be more enraged if immunity is granted to the prince.
Washington-based human rights organization DAWN, founded by Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz and the late journalist, first filed a lawsuit against bin Salman and 28 others in Washington DC Federal District Court in October 2020. They claim that the assassination team “abducted, tied, drugged, tortured and assassinated” Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and then dismembered his body. His remains were never found.
“Biden betrayed his word, he betrayed Cemal,” Cengiz told CNN. “History will not forget this wrong decision.”
Genghis too tweeted“Biden saved the murderer by giving immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the afterlife?”
DAWN Executive Director Sarah Leah Whitson described the immunity request as a “shocking result” and a “major concession” to Saudi Arabia.
“It’s not really ironic that President Biden promised to do basically impunity for Mohammed bin Salman, which is exactly the opposite of what he promised to hold Jamal Khashoggi’s killers accountable,” Whitson told CNN.
AND US intelligence community report Regarding the Khashoggi murder published in February 2021, when Biden took office, he said he had approved the operation that resulted in bin Salman’s murder and dismemberment aimed at capturing or killing the journalist.
Bin Salman denied the allegations and sought immunity from prosecution, alleging that various government and royal positions granted him immunity and placed him outside the jurisdiction of US courts.
As Crown Prince, however, bin Salman did not qualify for sovereign immunity that would normally only include a head of state, head of government or foreign minister, none of which bin Salman has.
Then, just days before the Biden administration was due to address the immunity issue last month, his father, King Salman, who would normally hold the post, promoted bin Salman to prime minister.
DAWN’s Whitson said this was a “trick” to secure alleged presidential immunity, after which the Justice Department requested a delay.
Now that bin Salman is prime minister, “the government should propose that he is entitled to immunity,” said William Dodge, a law professor at the University of California Davis Law School, who had previously written that the prince was not entitled to immunity.
“It’s almost automatic,” Dodge said, “I think that’s why his appointment as prime minister is to get away with it.”
The State Department was not required to grant immunity, but was invited by the court to do so. A spokesperson said the requests for immunity to bin Salman were based on longstanding common and international law rather than a reflection of existing diplomatic ties or efforts.
“This Immunity Proposal does not reflect an assessment of the merits of the case. It says nothing about broader politics or the state of affairs,” a ministry spokesperson told CNN. “It was a completely legal decision.”
The Saudi embassy in Washington DC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bin Salman also applied for immunity. a lawsuit against him By Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi counterterrorism official who accused him of sending an assassination squad to kill him in Canada just days after the murder of Prince Khashoggi. This case was dismissed by the same court for other reasons.
“After breaking its commitment to punish MBS for the Khashoggi assassination, the Biden administration not only protected MBS from accountability in US courts, but also empowered him to kill more detractors and declared that he would never be held accountable,” Aljabri’s son said. Khaled told CNN on Thursday.
The White House was widely criticized when Biden awkwardly punched the crown prince during his July visit to Saudi Arabia for saying the president still holds responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder.
Biden said he raised the murder at the beginning of their meeting and continued to deny that the prince was responsible.
“I was direct and direct when discussing this. Biden, I made my point clear,” he said.
A four-page US intelligence community report, released in 2021, said that the 15-person Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul in October 2018, when Khashoggi was killed, also included members affiliated with the Saudi Center for Research and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court. Led by a close adviser to bin Salman and “seven members of Mohammed bin Salman’s elite personal protective team known as the Rapid Reaction Force.”
The report said that bin Salman viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and “widely supports the use of violent measures, if necessary, to silence him”.
The intelligence report said they had no visibility into when the Saudis decided to harm the father of five. “Although the Saudi authorities preplanned an indefinite operation against Khashoggi, we do not know how far ahead the Saudi authorities decided to harm Khashoggi,” the statement said.
Last month, on the fourth anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, DAWN requested the Biden administration to declassify and publish the entire intelligence report on Khashoggi’s killing.
Khashoggi’s fiancee, Cengiz, claims that when Khashoggi tried to get the documents they needed to get married from the Washington DC embassy, authorities “created an opportunity to kill him”.
They said the only place they could get the documents they needed was the consulate in Istanbul, he said. According to the lawsuit, two weeks before his appointment on October 2, 2018, when he was killed, Khashoggi and Cengiz were married in a religious Islamic ceremony.
“The Administration’s decision to encourage the courts to support MBS sovereign immunity is another disappointing episode in a series of failures to hold the Saudi leadership accountable for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” a senior Congressional Democrat aide said. “Actions like this contradict the Administration’s hollow assurances of accountability and fly in the face of our own intelligence assessments of MBS’s involvement.”
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