The US State Department announced on Friday that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune from investigation by the United States as long as he is in power, shielding MBS from being implicated in the murder of US resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The announcement is in contradiction with what President Joe Biden promised on the 2020 campaign trail, when he vowed to investigate and punish any individuals found to be involved in the plot to kill Khashoggi in a brutal murder that took place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October of 2018.
The State Department’s announcement, which came in a letter, cites the Federal Act of State doctrine, which governs the jurisdiction of the United States when it comes to federal international investigations.
“The State Department recognizes and allows the immunity of Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman as a sitting head of government of a foreign state,” reads the letter.
“Under common law principles of immunity articulated by the Executive Branch in the exercise of its Constitutional authority over foreign affairs and informed by customary international law, Prime Minister bin Salman as a sitting head of government is immune while in office from the jurisdiction of the United States District Court in this suit.”
The State Department was clear that its decision to recognize MBS’ immunity is not a reflection of the department’s view on the murder of Khashoggi.
“In making this immunity determination, the Department of State takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” says the letter.
While the decision was made by the State Department alone, sources told ABC News that several entities had been consulted before the letter was released, including the White House.
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