A federal judge in Washington dismissed a lawsuit filed by the fiance of killed writer Jamal Khashoggi against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, citing President Biden’s immunity grant.
The decision made by the Biden administration forced U.S. District Judge John Bates to dismiss the lawsuit, despite his hesitation.
The United States has told the Court that bin Salman is exempt, Bates said in the 25-page decision, “despite the Court’s unease with both the circumstances of bin Salman’s appointment and the strong accusations of his complicity in Khashoggi’s death.”
Bates was alluding to the fact that Saudi King Salman only officially designated Prince Mohammed as prime minister in September when he invoked the circumstances surrounding Prince Mohammed’s appointment as head of state.
In the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered by Saudi agents. According to U.S. intelligence, Prince Mohammed, also known by his initials MbS, who has been the kingdom’s de facto ruler for a number of years, ordered the operation.
Although the prince initially denied ordering Khashoggi’s murder, he subsequently admitted that it happened “under my watch.”
The Biden Administration ruled that Prince Mohammed, “as the sitting leader of a foreign country, has the head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts as a result of that office,” according to attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice in a court filing dated November.
“Jamal died again today,” Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, remarked on the choice at the time.
When Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July to talk about oil and security matters, he received criticism for giving the crown prince a fist bump. According to the White House, Biden told Prince Mohammed that he held him accountable for the murder of Khashoggi.
In writings for the Washington Post, Khashoggi attacked 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.