'Jamal died again today': Biden administration says Saudi Prince Salman has immunity in Khashoggi killing lawsuit
Joe Biden administration has ruled that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity from a lawsuit over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The move has drawn criticism from the slain journalist’s former fiancee.
Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an operation which is believed to be ordered by Prince Mohammed, Saudi’s de facto ruler for several years.
“Jamal died again today,” Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter.
“We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first. This is a world that Jamal doesn’t know about and me..!” She added.
The crown prince had denied ordering Khashoggi’s killing but later acknowledged that it took place “under my watch.”
Biden, who fist-bumped the crown prince on a visit to Saudi Arabia in July to discuss energy and security issues, had told Prince Mohammed that he considered him responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.
“This is a legal determination made by the State Department under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in a written statement. “It has nothing to do with the merits of the case.”
The spokesperson referred further questions to the State and Justice Departments.
In a document filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia, Justice Department attorneys wrote that “the doctrine of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law.”
Justice Department lawyers said that the executive branch of the government, referring to the Biden Administration, had “determined that defendant bin Salman, as the sitting head of a foreign government, enjoys head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts as a result of that office.”
In late September, Saudi King Salman named Prince Mohammed prime minister in a royal decree which a Saudi official said was in line with responsibilities that the crown prince was already exercising.
Biden was criticized for fist-bumping the crown prince on a visit to Saudi Arabia in July to discuss energy and security issues. The White House said Biden had told Prince Mohammed that he considered him responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.
Khashoggi had criticized the crown prince’s policies in Washington Post columns. He had traveled to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers he needed to marry Cengiz, a Turkish citizen.