US judge rejects Khashoggi lawsuit against Crown Prince bin Salman
A US federal judge rejected the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the case of the murder of anti-government journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On Tuesday (local time), he referred to a statement sent by the US government, according to which the accused was the acting head of government “and therefore untouchable”. Judge John Bates said that while the plaintiff’s fiancee had made “strong” arguments, Khashoggi should follow the government’s position.
Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, wanted to prove during the trial that bin Salman was behind the murder of a government critic at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Cengiz has “strong” arguments, Judge Bates said. However, he has no choice but to follow the statement of the US government and therefore reject the claim.
In mid-November, the government sent a formal statement to the judge that bin Salman enjoys immunity as head of government. The influential crown prince, who has been the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia for years, was appointed prime minister only in September. Among other things, this chronological sequence made him “uncomfortable,” Bates said.
59-year-old Khashoggi was killed in 2018 at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where he had agreed to prepare for his wedding with Cengiz from Turkey. According to the official information of Turkey and the USA, a 15-person commander was waiting in the embassy, who killed him and disappeared his body. According to US intelligence, Ben Salman personally approved Khashoggi’s murder.
After weeks of denials, Riyadh announced under international pressure that the critic and opponent of bin Salman’s government had been killed “in a failed attempt to arrest him.” The killing sparked international outrage and severely strained relations between oil-rich Saudi Arabia and many Western countries.
Meanwhile, however, the crown prince is again a sought-after discussion partner, especially as a result of the energy crisis caused by Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. US President Joe Biden also met bin Salman in July. Before his election, Biden said that Saudi Arabia should be treated as a “pariah” over the Khashoggi murder.