Jamal Khashoggi case: Saudi crown prince demands immunity as PM

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
March 1, 2024

On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.  Khashoggi was ambushed and strangled by a 15-member squad of Saudi assassins and his body was dismembered and disposed of.  Khashoggi's final moments were captured in audio recordings, transcripts of which were subsequently made public. The Saudi government engaged in an extensive effort to cover up the killing, including destroying evidence.  By 16 October, separate investigations by Turkish officials and The New York Times had concluded that the murder was premeditated and that some members of the Saudi hit team were closely connected to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi fled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in June 2017 and went into self-imposed exile in the US. His writing of opinions was often critical on the Saudi government and the royal family and its invasion in Yemen, and greatly opposed on the same in his columns on The Washington Post.

The U.S. intelligence believed that the killing  was ordered by Prince Mohammed, who has been the kingdom’s de facto ruler for several years. The prince even though denied ordering Khashoggi’s killing, but acknowledged later it took place “under my watch”.

The lawsuit was filed jointly by Cengiz and a human rights group founded by Khashoggi, and sought unspecified damages against the crown prince, known in the West as MBS. It also named more than 20 other Saudis as co-defendants. The court had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to express a view on whether Prince Mohammed had immunity, setting an Oct. 3 deadline for a response.

After the prince’s appointment as prime minister last week, the department said it was seeking a 45-day extension to prepare its response to the court “in light of these changed circumstances. Lawyers for Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, told a court on Monday the crown prince’s appointment as prime minister last week ensured him immunity from prosecution.

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