US says Saudi Arabia’s MBS is immune from Jamal Khashoggi lawsuit

US says Saudi Arabia's MBS is immune from Jamal Khashoggi lawsuit

Jamal Khashoggi
Credt: April Brady, CC BY-SA 2.0

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune from US civil proceedings brought by the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the US government has said.

Hatice Cengiz is suing Mr bin Salman and 28 others in the Washington D.C. federal district court over Mr Khashoggi’s 2018 murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

However, the US Department of Justice, at the request of the State Department, has now told the court that Mr bin Salman “is the sitting head of government and, accordingly, is immune from this suit”, CNN reports.

Mr bin Salman was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s prime minister in September.

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of US-based human rights group DAWN, which was founded by Mr Khashoggi, said the Crown Prince’s appointment as prime minister was a “ploy” to secure his immunity.

William Dodge, a law professor at University of California Davis Law School, added: “It’s almost automatic. I think that’s why he was appointed prime minister is to get out of this.”

Writing on Twitter, Ms Cengiz said: “The United States state department has granted immunity to [Mr bin Salman]. It wasn’t a decision everyone expected. We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from [the US…] But again, money came first. This is a word that Jamal doesn’t know about and me..!”

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