A U.S. judge has dismissed a case against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for allegedly ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, following the Biden administration’s decision that he held ‘sovereign immunity.’
Judge John Bates, a district court judge in Washington D.C. on Tuesday December 6, said the allegations were ‘credible’ and that he felt ‘uneasiness in dismissing the case.
It comes after President Joe Biden was accused of betraying the memory of Khashoggi when the State Department said the crown prince was immune from prosecution.
Khashoggi was never seen again after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Saudi officials are believed to have killed him and dismembered his body, before removing his remains in trash bags.
In his written opinion, Bates said his hands were tied by the State Department’s decision — even though MBS was only appointed prime minister six days before the Biden administration decided he had immunity.
‘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,’ he wrote.
‘Accordingly, the claims against bin Salman will be dismissed based on head-of-state immunity.’
MBS has always denied any involvement
The case was brought by Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz and DAWN, a group that promotes human rights in the Middle East, as they seek justice for his death.
Khashoggi, a resident of the US, had walked into the consulate on October 2, 2018, to collect documents that would allow him to get married. He never walked out.
Audio tape released believed to be from Khashoggi’s Apple Watch captured his dying screams as he was allegedly dragged from the Saudi consul general’s office to a table in a next-door study, injected with an ‘unknown drug’ and surgically dismembered.
A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate. They included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office.
Turkish officials allege Mr. Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe MBS was responsible for the killing.
When the State Department announced his immunity, Cengiz took to Twitter to express her grief. ‘Jamal died again today.’
Cengiz added later: ‘We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first.’
‘Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the hereafter?’ she added.
‘Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal,’ Cengiz told CNN in an interview Friday morning. ‘History will not forget this wrong decision.’
It came months after Biden was pictured bumping fists with the Saudi leader during a meeting in Jeddah.
The president insisted he was ‘straightforward and direct’ with the crown prince in telling him the killing was unacceptable when they spoke in July.