Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday defended the administration’s choice to grant immunity for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however mentioned the opinion primarily based on “long-standing authorized observe” doesn’t mirror the “present standing” of U.S.-Saudi relations.
It was a “authorized matter,” Blinken instructed reporters from Qatar.
The secretary of state mentioned 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 choice was made in response to a lawsuit levied in opposition to the Crown Prince by Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, in 2020 which alleged that the prince and 28 others “kidnaped, sure, 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.
“It is a willpower that we have made in dozens, a whole lot of circumstances over time. And in each case, we merely observe the regulation,” Blinken mentioned, 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 authorised the seize that led to the dying of the Washington Publish journalist.
The Biden administration then introduced a “Khashoggi Ban” that restricted visas for any particular person immediately concerned in “severe, extraterritorial counter-dissident actions, together with people 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 obtained swift backlash following final week’s announcement, together with from Washington Publish CEO Fred Ryan, who mentioned the choice basically gave the Saudi royal household a “license to kill.”
On Tuesday, Blinken seemed to set the file straight and mentioned the choice was primarily based on a court docket opinion and “doesn’t communicate in any strategy to the deserves of the case” or the “present standing of the bilateral relationship.”
“Our evaluate of that relationship is, is ongoing,” he added.