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A U.S. judge has dismissed a case against the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the grounds that he has been granted immunity from prosecution by the Biden administration.
Per an Al Jazeera report, the Washington judge said he was reluctant to dismiss the suit, filed by the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was killed at a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Yet he could do nothing else because of the immunity granted to the Saudi Crown Price by the White House.
Crown Prince Mohammed has denied any participation in the killing of Khashoggi.
“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,” Judge John Bates wrote in his ruling.
The Biden administration called for immunity for Mohammed last month, saying that Mohammed’s title of Crown Prince and his position as Prime Minister of the Kingdom should provide a shield from lawsuits such as the one brought to court by Khashoggi’s fiancée and the human rights group he founded.
At the time, however, the State Department pointed out that the declaration it made on the topic of Mohammed’s immunity is not binding and can be overturned by any U.S. judge. The department added it was a “purely legal determination.”
The move, however, was a sort of olive branch for Riyadh after President Biden threatened to turn Saudi Arabia into a pariah state for, among other things, the Khashoggi murder, which did not set a friendly tone for bilateral relations during this administration.
Since oil prices started climbing last year, however, the White House rushed to mend fences only to find that the Saudis have other priorities than U.S. retail fuel prices. This prompted the White House to double down on its attempts to fix its relationship with Riyadh, including by suggesting immunity for the Saudi Crown Prince.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com