By Dan Whitcomb
(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the boyfriend of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, citing President Biden’s granting of immunity.
U.S. District Judge John Bates suggested he was reluctant to dismiss the lawsuit, but had no choice given the Biden administration’s decision.
“Despite the Court’s unease, therefore, both with the circumstances of bin Salman’s appointment and with credible allegations of his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, the Kingdom
States has informed the court that it is immune,” Bates wrote in the 25-page ruling.
Invoking the circumstances surrounding Prince Mohammed’s appointment as head of state, Bates was referring to the fact that it was only in September that Saudi King Salman appointed Prince Mohammed as prime minister by royal decree.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in October 2018 by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an operation that US intelligence believed was ordered by Prince Mohammed, known by his initials MbS, who was the de facto ruler of the reign for several years.
The prince denied ordering Khashoggi’s killing, but later acknowledged that it happened “under my watch”.
Lawyers for the US Department of Justice said in a November court filing that the Biden administration had ruled that Prince Mohammed, “as the acting head of a foreign government, enjoys head of state immunity from jurisdiction of the U.S. courts pursuant to such charge.”
Khashoggi’s boyfriend Hatice Cengiz said of the decision at the time that: “Jamal died again today.”
Biden has come under fire for beating 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 held him responsible for killing Khashoggi.
Khashoggi had criticized the crown prince’s policies in the columns of the Washington Post. He had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain the necessary documents to marry Cengiz, a Turkish citizen.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)
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