A US judge has asked the Biden administration to look into the US civil case brought against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by Hatice Cengiz, the slain’s fiancee Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
John Bates, a U.S. District Court judge, has asked the Biden administration government to indicate whether it has an interest in the case or to notify that it has no opinion on the matter at the no later than August 1, The Guardian reported.
In 2020, Ms Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), an NGO formed by late journalist Khashoggi before his death in 2018, filed a complaint against the crown prince, more commonly known as MBS, alongside around 20 co-accused. .
The lawsuit alleges that Khashoggi, who had fled Saudi Arabia and was residing in Virginia at the time of his death, was tortured, brutally murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents, all under the direction of the Crown Prince. .
At the time, Khashoggi reportedly went to the Saudi consulate in Turkey to collect the paperwork he needed to marry his then-fiancée, who remained a fierce and outspoken critic – as was her future husband who died of his alive – of MBS and his government.
For his part, the Crown Prince categorically denied being involved in the murder of the journalist, stating that it was the fault of so-called “rogue agents” and similarly dismissed the civil action brought against him, after filing two separate motions to have the case removed from the list.
In these motions, lawyers representing MBS argue that the court does not have jurisdiction over the Crown Prince.
“In the opinion of the court, some of the grounds for dismissal advanced by the defendants could jeopardize the interests of the United States; moreover, the court’s resolution of the defendants’ motions could be facilitated by knowledge of the views of the United States,” Judge Bates said, according to The Washington Post.
Judge Bates’ request to the Biden administration comes at a time when relations between the Middle Eastern kingdom and Washington are at a potentially turbulent stage, as the US president is due to arrive in Riyadh for the first time since taking office. to meet with the heir apparent later this month.
This late summer summit was criticized by Ms Cengiz, who recently told CNN it would be a significant loss for human rights defenders around the world.
“President Biden’s decision to meet with MBS is horribly upsetting to me and to supporters of freedom and justice everywhere,” Ms Cengiz said in a statement to CNN.
Mr Biden’s decision to meet the crown prince is a stark departure from his 2020 campaign to win the presidency, during which he pledged to hold the Saudi government accountable for violations of human rights. human rights while promising to make the oil-rich nation a “pariah”.
The president was initially praised for keeping those promises, as he imposed sanctions on the Middle East government, while simultaneously releasing a damning piece of unclassified US intelligence that confirmed officials believed MBS was likely responsible for the murder of the outspoken journalist.
“Those involved in the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi must be held accountable. With this action, Treasury is sanctioning the Saudi Rapid Reaction Force and a senior Saudi official who was directly implicated in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement released in early 2021.
These sanctions, however, did not directly target the crown prince. And with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces continuing to drive up oil prices, and the midterms fast approaching, with the president still posting record approval ratings, it’s likely that the US president will, once again, avoid firing specifically at the Saudi crown prince in order to preserve relations and may therefore decide to avoid weighing in on the US civil case.
That’s what senior US officials suspect, according to CNN, which reported early last month that the US president hopes to use the official trip to Riyadh as an opportunity to “reset” the two countries’ stale relations.
“Both sides have decided that in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, we have to go beyond that,” an unnamed senior US official told CNN in reference to Khashoggi’s killing, meaning in avoided punishing the Crown Prince. the murder of the American resident.
Biden is expected to meet Prince Mohammed in Jeddah at the end of a four-day trip beginning July 13.
The Independent Gt