Updated Dec 6, 2022 - World

Judge dismisses suit against MBS over Khashoggi killing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok on Nov. 18, 2022. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Driving the news: The dismissal came after the Biden administration attracted criticism for supporting the crown prince's immunity in the suit.

  • U.S. District Judge John Bates cited the Biden administration's recommendation and bin Salman's "head-of-state immunity."
  • For co-defendants Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri, both high-ranking Saudi officials at the time of Khashoggi’s murder, the judge cited "the absence of any basis to assert personal jurisdiction."
  • The lawsuit was filed by Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who said last month that "Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity," and the rights group Khashoggi founded, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

Yes, but: The suit was tossed out even as the court determined that "the 'horrific' killing was approved by bin Salman himself."

  • "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," the filing states.

Background: U.S. officials determined last year that MBS had approved the 2018 murder of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

  • MBS has denied he ordered the journalist's killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but has said he accepted "responsibility" because it "happened under my watch."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting and background.

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