A US district court on Tuesday threw out a case brought by Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to hold him accountable for his death instead of being provided immunity from the US.
“Sad news for accountability. District court dismissed @DAWNmenaorg lawsuit with Cengiz for murder of #jamalkhashoggi by MBS on jurisdictional grounds. We are consulting with our lawyers on the next steps,” tweeted Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now), the organization founded by Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, 59, a well-known Saudi journalist who criticized the crown prince’s policies, was murdered by a 15-member Saudi assassin squad in Istanbul, Türkiye on Oct. 2, 2018.
Bin Salman, 37, became prime minister this September, formalizing the power he had wielded for years under his father, King Salman, who remains the official head of state.
Just last month, US President Joe Biden’s administration declared that the Saudi crown prince would be granted immunity in Khashoggi’s murder, evoking swift condemnation from Cengiz, who filed her suit with the US Department of Justice in a 10-page response to the immunity decision.
“The Executive Branch can decide to recognize MBS as Saudi Arabia’s head of government, but that decision does not compel this Court to accede to MBS’s blatant attempt to manipulate this Court’s jurisdiction and thereby secure impunity for the horrific murder he ordered,” said Cengiz’s attorneys.
In direct contrast, the US State Department said bin Salman should be “immune while in office” as the head of the Saudi government.
The crown prince has said repeatedly that he had no prior knowledge of the plot against Khashoggi but that he accepted symbolic responsibility for it as the nation’s de facto ruler.
“Our struggle continues,” said Whitson.