A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the death of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pointing to the Biden administration’s decision to grant immunity.
U.S. District Judge John Bates said his hands were tied after the Department of Justice, acting on a request from the State Department, said the crown prince is considered the prime minister and head of state and thus shielded from the suit brought by Khashoggi’s fiancée.
“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,” Judge Bates wrote in his decision.
Khashoggi was killed four years ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul before his body was chopped up with a bone saw.
His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, filed a lawsuit against the crown prince and 28 others in 2020 as questions swirled about the Saudi leader’s involvement and whether he ordered the killing.
Mr. Biden previously talked tough about the case, saying it made Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state.
Since then, the president has grappled with America’s awkward relationship with the Saudis, who are seen as a key security partner in the Middle East and energy supplier.
Mr. Biden met with the crown prince earlier this year, greeting him with a fist-bump, and pleaded with him to boost energy production. High gas prices have been a drag on Mr. Biden’s presidency.