A federal court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after an intervention from the Biden administration, The New York Times reports.
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, filed a lawsuit against bin Salman and others after Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The lawsuit also named two dozen other defendants believed to be involved in the killing.
The complaint alleged that MBS and other officials acted “in a conspiracy and with premeditation, kidnapped, bound, drugged and tortured, and assassinated U.S.-resident journalist and democracy advocate Jamal Khashoggi.”
US intelligence determined that MBS had ordered the killing, which he has denied.
MBS in September formally became the ruler of the kingdom just six days before an October deadline set by a judge for the U.S. government to determine whether MBS had sovereign immunity from the suit.
The Justice Department ultimately concluded that MBS should be “immune while in office.”
The State Department submitted the statement to the court, adding “its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said he was “deeply disappointed” by the intervention.
“The administration’s deliberate and callous decision goes against President Biden’s repeated commitments to Jamal Khashoggi’s family, and it sends a horrific message to despots around the world,” he said in a written statement. “The architects of Khashoggi’s brutal murder must be held accountable for their heinous crime. His family and loved ones deserve justice.”
“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,’” the court said on Tuesday.
“Accordingly,” the court added, “the claims against bin Salman will be dismissed based on head-of-state immunity.”