Khashoggi murder: MBS enjoys immunity in US

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Murder by Khashoggi: MBS enjoys immunity in the United States

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman meet at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) this summer (Archives)

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been granted legal immunity in a civil suit filed in a Washington court, a decision that sparked outrage and anger in the United States on Friday. United and elsewhere.

In a pleading filed Thursday evening, President Joe Biden's administration respectfully informed the court that defendant Mohammed bin Salman, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the incumbent head of government and, therefore, enjoys immunity from such prosecution.

The prince, nicknamed MBS, was appointed prime minister by royal decree in late September, sparking speculation that he was seeking to protect against claims filed in foreign courts – including a civil suit launched in the United States by Hatice Cengiz, the Turkish fiancée of the journalist murdered in Istanbul.

Hatice Cengiz is fighting for the Crown Prince to be punished for his involvement in the death of her fiancé, Jamal Khashoggi.< /p>

The latter posted a series of angry messages on Twitter in response: Jamal died a second time today, she wrote.

No one expected such a decision. We thought maybe the justice of the United States would shed some light. But again, money spoke first, Ms. Cengiz insisted.

Assailed with questions on Friday, the Biden administration stepped up to explain, according to the White House, that this legal recommendation had absolutely nothing to do with the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia which is , as you know, tense at the moment and nothing to do with the merits on the merits either.

President Biden is aware of this legal recommendation for immunity, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby assured, while insisting that the decision respected international law because of the crown prince's position as prime minister.

He also recalled that Joe Biden had publicly expressed himself very clearly to denounce the brutal and barbaric murder of the journalist.

Dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated on October 2, 2018 by a team of Saudi agents at the premises of the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a close friend of Saudi power who later became a critic, in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul (Turkey), had temporarily made the prince a pariah in the West.

His lawyers had previously argued that Mr bin Salman sits at the top of the government of Saudi Arabia and should therefore enjoy the immunity that the U.S. courts grant heads of state and other high-ranking foreign officials.

The recommendation sparked anger among supporters of Ms. Gengiz's action, including members of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a US-based NGO founded by Mr. Khashoggi.

The Biden administration overstepped the mark by recommending immunity for MBS and keeping him accountable, said DAWN executive director Sarah Leah Whitson.

Now that Mr. Biden has declared he has full immunity, we can expect MBS' attacks on the people of our country to get even worse.

Agnès Callamard, secretary general of the NGO Amnesty International, called the US government's recommendation a profound betrayal. And in a scathing editorial, the Washington Post, with whom Mr. Khashoggi had collaborated as a columnist, for his part denounced the fact that President Biden was thus turning his back on the fundamental principles of press freedom and equality.

The prince, who has been the de facto ruler of the kingdom for several years, served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense during the reign of his father, King Salman.

After a relative period of sidelining after the journalist's murder, he returned to the international scene this year, thanks in particular to Joe Biden, who visited Saudi Arabia in July while he had previously sworn to make the kingdom an outcast.

The US government's recommendation tabled Thursday gave the Saudi leader a license to kill, said Khalid al-Jabri, the son of Saad al-Jabri, a former Saudi spy who accused the prince of sending a team of killers to him in Canada.

Last year, Mr Biden released an intelligence report saying the prince approved the operation that led to the journalist's death. Saudi authorities deny this.

In the civil proceedings initiated by Ms. Cengiz and DAWN in the United States, the plaintiffs allege that MBS and more than 20 co-defendants, acting in criminal association and with premeditation, abducted, tied up, drugged, tortured and murdered Jamal Khashoggi.

They demand financial compensation and seek to demonstrate that the murder was ordered by the top of the Saudi power hierarchy.

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