Saudi Arabia. Biden government seeks legal immunity for MBS over Jamal Khashoggi murder

Saudi Arabia.  Biden government seeks legal immunity for MBS over Jamal Khashoggi murder

Summary Middle East, 21 November 2022.

The Biden government has told a US court that Mohammed bin Salman should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, effectively ending a last-ditch attempt to hold the Saudi crown prince legally responsible for the murder. Opposition journalist in 2018.

In a presentation released late Thursday, the Biden administration said the crown prince’s recent promotion to prime minister meant he was “an incumbent head of government and therefore exempt from litigation.”

“The US government has expressed serious concern over the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi and has raised these concerns publicly and to the highest echelons of the Saudi government,” the Justice Department file states. visa restrictions on murder.

“However, the doctrine of the immunity of heads of state is well established in customary international law and has long been consistently accepted in executive branch practice as a status-based determination that does not reflect judgment on the conduct at issue.” said.

The government file included a letter from Richard Visek, who serves as the US State Department’s legal adviser, instructing the Department of Justice to submit a “speech of immunity” to the Court. Legal experts say the position the U.S. government presented to a U.S. district court would likely lead Judge John Bates to dismiss a civil suit brought by Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, against Prince Mohammed, known as MBS.

In 2019, after the Washington Post reporter was murdered, then-presidential candidate Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the kingdom’s human rights record.

Biden has repeatedly spoken of the reassessment of relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Biden appeared to have accomplished this earlier in his presidency by suspending the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, freezing contacts with MBS, and publishing a brief review outlining the role and responsibility of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Saudi crown prince after Khashoggi’s death.

Thursday’s decision is likely to spark an angry backlash. The White House had hoped President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia in July would put the strained US-Saudi relationship back on track, but relations have only continued to deteriorate since then.

The White House said the relationship was being reassessed in early October 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, who are already outraged by the oil cut and calling for a reconsideration, will likely only be more enraged if the prince is granted immunity.

deep betrayal

Agnès Callamard, secretary general of the Amnesty International NGO, described the US government’s advice as “deep betrayal”.

The prince, who has been the de facto ruler of the kingdom for several years, served as deputy prime minister and defense minister under his father, King Salman.

After a period of relative marginalization after the journalist’s murder, he is back on the international scene this year thanks to the US president who visited Saudi Arabia in July despite previously promising to make the kingdom a “pariah.”

power to kill

Khaled al-Jabri, son of Saad al-Jabri, a former Saudi spy who accused the prince of sending an assassination team to assassinate him in Canada, said on Thursday that US government advice gave the Saudi leader “authority to kill”. .

Khalid noted that after failing to keep his promise to punish MBS for the murder of Khashoggi, the Biden administration not only protected him from prosecution in US courts, but also made him more dangerous than ever, with the power to render his opponents inconclusive.

Last year, Biden released an intelligence report stating that the prince had approved the operation that led to the journalist’s death, which included Saudi security agents.

In Cengiz Hanım’s civil lawsuit at Columbia, plaintiffs allege that MBS and more than 20 defendants were “abducted, bound, drugged, tortured, and killed by conspiracy and willful act.” in Istanbul.

They demand financial compensation and try to prove that the assassination order was given by “the top of the Saudi power hierarchy”.

Source: Al Manar

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