Saudi Prime Minister Given U.S Immunity over American Journalist Murder


Thomas Owens, Staff

The U.S has determined that Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – has immunity from a lawsuit filed by murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancé. 

Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi critic, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. 

US intelligence has said it believes Prince Mohammed ordered the killing. 

But in court filings, the US State department said he has immunity due to his new role as Saudi prime minister. 

Hatice Cingez (Fiancé) along with the human rights group Democracy for the Arab World Now or D.A.W.N, (founded by Mr. Khashoggi) had been seeking unspecified damages in the US from the crown prince for her fiancé’s murder. The complaint accused Prince Mohammed issue orders for the journalist to be “kidnapped, bound, drugged and tortured, and assassinated,” The official explanation for the immunity grant is that the status formally changed in September when named Prime Minister this however is largely academic. 

In Saudi Arabia power is held by the king, the crown prince, and any immediate blood relations to the prior. Bin Salaman has been powerful since he became prince in 2017. Across many nations and figure heads, it seemed that the US, as Saudi Arabia’s strategic partner and arms supplier, would allow the arrest of Mohammad Bin Salaman. But granting him immunity in this way will cause some relief in the Saudi royal court and has provoked a storm of protest from human rights groups as well as Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancé. Underlying all this is Washington’s desire to improve its poor relations with the Saudi leadership. the Saudis’ recent refusal to pump oil for the US and lower fuel prices and stabilizing much of Arabia’s region, was taken as a snub in Washington. Added to that, the Saudis have an increasingly warm relationship with both Russia and China on the account of the U.S “overstaying their welcome,” whilst the two communist superpowers generally avoided unnecessary involvement. It also led to a major downturn in US-Saudi relations, with President. Biden vowing to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” (outcast) while he was campaigning for the presidency in 2019. What can come of these developments is uncertain but for many it seems the region is far from a U.S alliance.