Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “was deemed immune” in the civil suit over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the case brought in the United States, sparking controversy and outrage.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed Saudi prime minister by royal decree in September, reigniting speculation about Riyadh’s attempts to avoid the risk of legal proceedings in foreign courts, notably in the case taking place in the United States.
The lawsuit in the United States was filed by Hatice Cangiz, fiancée of the journalist murdered in Istanbul, Turkey.
Reacting to the filing concerning the current Saudi Prime Minister, Hatice Cangiz published during the last morning a series of messages on the social network Twitter that show indignation.
“Jamal died a second time,” wrote Hatice Cangiz, referring directly to the filing of the lawsuit.
“Nobody expected this decision. We thought that maybe the justice system in the United States could shed some light (on the case). But, once again, money was more important,” he added.
Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist initially close to the Saudi royal house and later a critic of the Riyadh monarchy, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018.
Lawyers for the Saudi prime minister had previously argued that the prince “is at the top of Saudi Arabia’s government” and should therefore enjoy the immunity that US courts grant to heads of state and other foreign leaders.
The US administration had until Thursday to rule on the lawsuit concerning the Saudi prince, although the recommendation is not considered binding by the court.
“The United States respectfully informs the court that Defendant Mohammed bin Salman, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the acting Head of Government and therefore immunity from this proceeding,” reads the document that was filed with the District Court. of Columbia, United States, by the administration of President Joe Biden.
The text reads, however, that “the State Department reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous death of Jamal Khashoggi”.
Still, the recommendation sparked outrage among Genghiz supporters, including members of the US-based non-governmental organization Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN), founded by Khashoggi.
“The Biden administration has crossed the line in recommending immunity for Mohammed bin Salman and avoiding accountability,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of DAWN.
“Now that Biden has declared full immunity, we can expect Mohammed bin Salman’s attacks on the people of our country (Saudi Arabia) to become even worse,” he stressed.
Agnés Callamard, general secretary of Amnesty International, considered the position of the US Administration “profound betrayal”.
The prince, the “de facto” leader of the Saudi kingdom, has formally held the posts of deputy prime minister and defense minister.
After a period of relative distance, after the murder of the journalist, MBS returned to the center of attention this year, especially after the visit of the President of the United States to Saudi Arabia.
Biden had earlier vowed to make the Saudi kingdom a “pariah” over human rights issues.
The US government’s recommendation gave the Saudi leader “a license to kill,” Khalid al-Jabri, son of Saad al-Jabri, a former Saudi spy who accused the prince of sending a strike team into Canada, said today.
“After breaking its promise to punish MBS for Khashoggi’s murder, the Biden administration is not only shielding him from prosecution in US courts, it is making him more dangerous than ever and with a ‘license to kill’ members. opposition without suffering consequences,” said Kalid al-Jabril.
Last year, Biden released a US intelligence report indicating that the prince had approved the operation that led to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi authorities have denied the charge.
In the lawsuit filed by Cengiz and the organization DAWN, the plaintiffs allege that MBS and 20 other suspects “acted with premeditation: they kidnapped, arrested, drugged, tortured and murdered” Jamal Khashoggi, columnist for the US daily Washington Post.
The plaintiffs demand financial compensation and seek to demonstrate that Kashoggi’s death was ordered by the “top of the Saudi hierarchy”.