Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday defended the administration’s determination to grant immunity for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however stated the opinion based mostly on “long-standing authorized observe” doesn’t mirror the “present standing” of U.S.-Saudi relations.
It was a “authorized matter,” Blinken advised reporters from Qatar.
The secretary of state stated that given his new place as Saudi prime minister, as a “head of state,” bin Salman was legally “entitled to immunity” within the authorized challenges he confronted over his alleged function within the brutal killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The administration’s determination was made in response to a lawsuit levied towards the Crown Prince by Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, in 2020 which alleged that the prince and 28 others “kidnaped, certain, drugged, tortured, and assassinated” Khashoggi on the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier than then dismembering his physique.
Khashoggi’s physique was by no means recovered.
“This can be a willpower that we have made in dozens, tons of of instances through the years. And in each case, we merely comply with the legislation,” Blinken stated, referring to the choice issued Thursday by the State Division.
President Biden in 2019 known as the alleged killing of Khashoggi – who was crucial of bin Salman – “flat-out homicide” and a U.S. intelligence report launched in February 2021 discovered that the Crown Prince accredited the seize that led to the dying of the Washington Submit journalist.
The Biden administration then introduced a “Khashoggi Ban” that restricted visas for any particular person straight concerned in “critical, extraterritorial counter-dissident actions, together with those who suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or hurt journalists, activists, or different individuals perceived to be dissidents for his or her work.”
The ban was not restricted to people concerned within the Khashoggi killing.
The Biden administration received swift backlash following final week’s announcement, together with from Washington Submit CEO Fred Ryan, who stated the choice primarily gave the Saudi royal household a “license to kill.”
On Tuesday, Blinken appeared to set the report straight and stated the choice was based mostly on a courtroom opinion and “doesn’t converse in any solution to the deserves of the case” or the “present standing of the bilateral relationship.”
“Our overview of that relationship is, is ongoing,” he added.