Saudi Arabian Crown Prince ‘immune from Khashoggi murder prosecution’

The US State Department has determined Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune from prosecution for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi because he was made Saudi Arabian Prime Minister in September


Human rights groups and the international journalistic community at large have recoiled in shock after the US State Department made a court filing declaring Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune from prosecution for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi because he is now Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Jamal Khashoggi was horrifically murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, where he had an appointment to collect papers for his upcoming marriage. A Saudi journalist, dissident, author, and columnist for Middle East Eye and The Washington Post, Khashoggi was a leading critic of the Saudi regime. He was also a US resident.

But a lawsuit filed by the murdered journalist’s fiancé Hatice Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn), a human rights group founded by the assassinated journalist, could now be dismissed by a judge who will decide on Prince Mohammed’s immunity.

Cengiz took to Twitter after the State Department’s court filing to say: “Jamal died again today”.

The complaint accuses the Saudi leader and his officials of having “kidnapped, bound, drugged and tortured, and assassinated US-resident journalist and democracy advocate Jamal Khashoggi”.

While the US Central Intelligence Agency has said it believes Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, the US State Department has informed the court that he has immunity due to his new role as Saudi Prime Minister, with the official explanation that the Saudi Crown Prince’s status formally changed in September when he was named prime minister.

Amnesty International secretary general Agnes Callamard said, “Today it is immunity. It all adds up to impunity.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, Dawn’s executive director, issued a scathing rebuke of the administration in the wake of its decision, calling it an “unnecessary, elective action that will serve only to undermine the most important action for accountability for Khashoggi’s heinous murder”.

“It’s beyond ironic that President Biden has single-handedly assured [Mohammed bin Salman] can escape accountability when it was President Biden who promised the American people he would do everything to hold him accountable.”

US Justice Department lawyers said at a briefing that as “the sitting head of a foreign government,” the crown prince “enjoys head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts as a result of that office.

“The doctrine of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law,” they said.

The Biden administration was meanwhile keen to emphasise that the ruling was not a determination of Prince Mohammed’s innocence.

“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.”


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17 days ago

Makes you ashamed to be a Democrat.

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