The United States has said Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will enjoy sovereign immunity in the civil case of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a well-known journalist who worked for the Washington Post, was a Saudi government critic, dissident and author.
He was assassinated on the “order” of Bin Salman, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, in October 2018.
Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has filed a lawsuit in US court against Salman and the Saudi government. However, on Thursday, November 17, President Joe Biden’s administration said the crown prince’s recent promotion to prime minister suggested he was “the incumbent head of government and therefore immune.” of the trial.
The decision has legal experts saying that the lead judge in the case, John Bates, will dismiss the lawsuit, which Cengiz had filed to accuse bin Salman of ‘kidnapping, tying up, drugging and torturing, and murdering the US resident journalist and democracy advocate Jamal Khashoggi.
“The United States government has expressed serious concerns about the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi and has raised those concerns publicly and with the highest levels of the Saudi government,” the Justice Department said in its filing.
He also added that the United States had also imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions in relation to the murder.
“However, the doctrine of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law and has always been recognized in long-standing executive branch practice as a status-based determination that does not reflect judgment about the underlying conduct at issue in the litigation,” it said.
Reacting to the US immunity provision, Cengiz wrote on Twitter, “Jamal died again today, with the ruling.”
Also, the secretary general of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, declared: “Today, it is immunity. All this adds up to impunity.
Saudi Arabia had said Khashoggi, who was also a former Washington Post columnist, was killed in a “rogue operation” by a special team sent to convince him to return to the kingdom.