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Federal judge dismisses case against Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi killing

Dec. 6 (UPI) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will not face any charges for his alleged role in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi after a federal judge dismissed the case against him.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bates for the District of Columbia confirmed a State Department decision that the crown prince is entitled to immunity in the case because he is a head of state. The charges were brought against the crown prince by Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn), an organization founded by Khashoggi.

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The administration of President Joe Biden granted Crown Prince Mohammed immunity on Nov. 18, stating that this decision follows international law.

In the filing, Bates said the ruling is not a reflection on the merits of the case against Crown Prince Mohammed.

“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 said.

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Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the State Department, shared similar sentiments when discussing the crown prince’s immunity in November.

“And what I want to be very clear about is that it has no bearing on the merits of the case. It has no bearing on the bilateral relationship,” he said.

“It has no bearing on our view of the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which this administration has taken action and has taken verifiable steps as it relates to — Secretary [Antony] Blinken has condemned it, President Biden has condemned it.”

Crown Prince Mohammed was elevated to Saudi prime minister in September. The timely maneuver protected him from answering for Khashoggi’s brutal killing. He is accused of coordinating a conspiracy with other Saudi officials to kill the journalist.

In 2018, Khashoggi was found tortured to death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government after he fled the country for America.

“One episode in our struggle for justice for Jamal may have concluded but the battle will never be over until all perpetrators including MBS are brought to justice,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, Dawn research director for Saudi Arabia.

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