- The Saudi journalist was murdered in 2018 by officials at consulate in Turkey
- Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, was a frequent critic of Saudi leaders
- U.S. intelligence says MBS was directly responsible for Khashoggi’s butchering
- On Tuesday, a court dismissed a lawsuit against the Saudi crown prince
- Judge John Bates said the allegations were ‘credible’ but that his hands were tied
- Last month, the State Department announced MBS had ‘sovereign immunity’
A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed a case against Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, following the Biden administration’s decision that he held ‘sovereign immunity.’
Judge John Bates, a district court judge in Washington D.C., said the allegations were ‘credible’ and that he felt ‘uneasiness in dismissing the case.
It comes after President Joe Biden was accused of betraying the memory of Khashoggi when the State Department said the crown prince was immune from prosecution.
Khashoggi was never seen again after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Saudi officials are believed to have killed him and dismembered his body, before removing his remains in trash bags.+10View gallery
Intelligence agencies believe Saudi officials killed Jamal Khashoggi at their consulate in Istanbul. They are believed to have dismembered him, and disposed of his remains +10View gallery
The Biden administration declared last month that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince should be considered immune from a lawsuit over his role in the killing. It came four months after President Joe Biden bumped fists with him at a meeting in the Saudi port city of JeddahTRENDINGRishi Sunak and Joe Biden will unveil gas supply agreement TODAY1.2k viewing nowTrump’s company found guilty of fraud in scheme hatched by executives 84.7k viewing nowKirstie Alley will be cremated18.8k viewing now
In his written opinion, Bates said his hands were tied by the State Department’s decision — even though MBS was only appointed prime minister six days before the Biden administration decided he had immunity.
‘Despite the court’s uneasiness, then, with both the circumstances of bin Salman’s appointment and the credible allegations of his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, the United States has informed the court that he is immune, and bin Salman is therefore “entitled to head of state immunity . . . while he remains in office,’ he wrote.
‘Accordingly, the claims against bin Salman will be dismissed based on head-of-state immunity.’
MBS has always denied any involvement
The case was brought by Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz and DAWN, a group that promotes human rights in the Middle East, as they seek justice for his death.
Khashoggi, a resident of the US, had walked into the consulate on October 2, 2018, to collect documents that would allow him to get married. He never walked out.
Audio tape released believed to be from Khashoggi’s Apple Watch captured his dying screams as he was allegedly dragged from the Saudi consul general’s office to a table in a next-door study, injected with an ‘unknown drug’ and surgically dismembered.
A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate.
They included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office.
Turkish officials allege Mr Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe MBS was responsible for the killing.
Judge John Bates, a district court judge in Washington D.C., said his hands were tied as he dismissed the case against MBS.
Last moments: Khashoggi was last seen on October 2, 2018, entering the consulate in Istanbul where he was accosted and killed by Saudi agents
When the State Department announced his immunity, Cengiz took to Twitter to express her grief. ‘Jamal died again today.’
It came months Biden was picture bumping fists with the de facto Saudi leader during a meeting in Jeddah.
The president insisted he was ‘straightforward and direct’ with the crown prince in telling him the killing was unacceptable when they spoke in July.
Cengiz added later: ‘We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first.’
‘Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the hereafter?’ she added.
‘Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal,’ Cengiz told CNN in an interview Friday morning. ‘History will not forget this wrong decision.’
Saudi Arabia has stepped up imprisonment and other retaliation against peaceful critics at home and abroad and has cut oil production, a move seen as undercutting efforts by the US and its allies to punish Russia for its war against Ukraine.
When it announced it decision, the State Department said it was ‘purely a legal determination.’
It also cited what it said was a long-standing precedent. Despite its recommendation to the court, the State Department said in its filing late Thursday that it ‘takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi.’
It also noted visa restrictions and other penalties that it had meted out to lower-ranking Saudi officials in the death.
‘From the earliest days of this administration, the United States government has expressed its grave concerns regarding Saudi agents´ responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder,’ the State Department said.+10View gallery
‘Jamal died again today,’ Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter minutes after the news became public. She added later: ‘We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first.’ +10View gallery
‘Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the hereafter?’ she added+10View gallery
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh. US intelligence concluded Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had approved the killing of widely known and respected journalist Jamal KhashoggiBiden: MBS says he ‘is not personally responsible’ for Khashoggi deathProgress: 0%0:00PreviousPlaySkipMuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:37FullscreenNeed Text
Yet Biden faces criticism for his handling of the case.
As a candidate, he vowed to make a ‘pariah’ out of Saudi Arabia for the killing of Khashoggi.
‘I think it was a flat-out murder,’ Biden said at a 2019 CNN town hall. ‘And I think we should have nailed it as that. I publicly said at the time we should treat it that way and there should be consequences relating to how we deal with those — that power.’
But Biden as president has sought to ease tensions with the kingdom, including the meeting in July during a trip to the kingdom, as the U.S. tried to persuade Saudi Arabia to undo a series of cuts in oil production.
Cengiz, and DAWN sued the crown prince, his top aides and others in Washington federal court over their alleged roles in Khashoggi’s killing.
‘It’s beyond ironic that President Biden has singlehandedly assured MBS can escape accountability when it was President Biden who promised the American people he would do everything to hold him accountable,’ the head of DAWN, Sarah Leah Whitson, said in a statement, using the prince’s acronym.
The US military long has safeguarded Saudi Arabia from external enemies, in exchange for Saudi Arabia keeping global oil markets afloat.+10View gallery
Saudi were seen gathering outside the consulate in Istanbul in 2018, in front of the door where Khashoggi entered but never returned+10View gallery
Khashoggi and his fiancee Cengiz are seen at an apartment building in Istanbul hours before his brutal dismemberment CCTV shows Khashoggi with his fiancee hours before he was killedProgress: 0%0:00PreviousPlaySkipMuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time2:17FullscreenNeed Text
‘It’s impossible to read the Biden administration’s move today as anything more than a capitulation to Saudi pressure tactics, including slashing oil output to twist our arms to recognize MBS’s fake immunity ploy,’ Whitson said.
Sovereign immunity, a concept rooted in international law, holds that states and their officials are protected from some legal proceedings in other foreign states´ domestic courts.
Upholding the concept of ‘sovereign immunity’ helps ensure that American leaders in turn don’t have to worry about being hauled into foreign courts to face lawsuits in other countries, the State Department said.
Human rights advocates had argued that the Biden administration would embolden Prince Mohammed and other authoritarian leaders around the world in more rights abuses if it supported the crown prince’s claim that his high office shielded him from prosecution.
Prince Mohammed serves as Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in the stead of his aged father, King Salman.
The Saudi king in September also temporarily transferred his title of prime minister — a title normally held by the Saudi monarch – to Prince Mohammed. Critics called it a bid to strengthen Mohammed´s immunity claim.