WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is considering a request to exempt Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from a federal lawsuit alleging that former Saudi intelligence officer living in Canada, legal documents related to the case show Trying to kill him.
If the request is granted, the State Department’s recommendation could potentially provide a legal basis for dismissing other cases against the prince, particularly one where he is accused of directing the assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashogi in 2018 Applying said person who is familiar with the matter.
In a case involving Saad Alzabari, a former top aide in Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry, which came publicly in August, Accused Prince Mohammed A team of agents is sending him to Canada to kill him. His trial offered little evidence to support his claims.
State Department officials gave lawyers a questionnaire for Mr Aljabari last month, in which they sought their legal views on the request to provide prince immunity against claims in a Saudi Arab lawsuit, documents show.
It is unclear whether the State Department will suggest immunity in the case or whether a decision will be made before January 20, when President Trump, Publicly supported prince mohammad, Leaves office.
A representative from the State Department declined to comment, citing protocols for not discussing pending litigation. Lawyers for Mr. Aljaburi also declined to comment. Saudi officials in Washington did not return requests for comment. There was a discussion about recommending immunity First reported by The Washington Post,
Since assuming office, Mr. Trump has been a powerful advocate of Saudi Arabia: he praised the country’s participation Blockade of qatar In 2017; Dubbed a bipartisan Resolution that ended US support for war in Yemen; And Rejected evidence that prince mohammed Ordered the assassination and dissolution of Mr. Khashoggi so that billions of dollars in US arms sales to Saudi Arabia could be preserved.
If discussion about recommending immunity for Prince Mohammed President Elect Joseph R. If Biden approaches Jr.’s administration, it is unclear how the State Department will consider such a request.
Mr. Biden is outspoken Criticize saudi arabia. He has vowed to end support for the war in Yemen, saying that the United States “will not re-examine its doctrines at the door only to buy oil or sell weapons.”
In Canada, Mr. Aljaburi’s son and cardiologist Khalid Alzabari said in an interview that he was concerned that Mr. Trump’s State Department would politicize any decision about approving Prince Mohammed’s immunity. He said he was concerned that the prince might feel incapable of revenge against political opponents if the immunity request was approved.
“This is a very dangerous thing,” said 36-year-old Khalid Alzabari. This would be equivalent to granting a US-issued license to kill. “
Saad Aljabari served as the former Crown Prince’s top aide for years Mohammad bin nayef, Who previously headed the Saudi Interior Ministry, and developed close ties with US intelligence officials. He was fired in 2015, before Mohammed bin Nayef was placed second by Prince Mohammed after the Saudi throne. Mr. Aljabari left Saudi Arabia in 2017.
In March, Saudi Arabia detained Mr. Alzabari’s brother and two adult children, whose relatives and United States officials said they were being held hostage to return to Mr. Alzabari’s kingdom.
In a lawsuit filed in the United States district court for the District of Columbia, Mr. Aljaburi stated that Prince Mohammed had tried to kill or silence him, so that he could not undermine Prince’s relationship with the Trump administration.
The lawsuit states that Saudi operatives tried to target Mr. Alzabari in Canada two weeks before a separate team of Saudi agents Mr. Khashogi was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence officials have said that Prince Mohammed ordered the most assassination. The prince has said that he had no prior knowledge of the operation targeting Mr. Khashogi.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia filed a notice through the international police organization, Interpol, asking other countries Arrest and extradite Mr. Aljabri To the state on corruption charges. In July, The Wall Street Journal reported Mr Aljabari was involved in a massive corruption scheme to enrich himself and others.
In October, Saudi Arabia asked the State Department to recommend Prince Mohammed to seek immunity in the case brought forward by Mr. Aljabari. In many cases, international law allows heads of state and diplomats to obtain immunity on the basis of their rank or conduct, legal matters stated.
It is unclear what Saudi authorities would have argued to the State Department to ask Prince Mohammed to grant him immunity. Persons familiar with Mr. Aljaburi’s case said that they believed that Saudi officials were claiming that the prince was the de facto ruler of the state and therefore should be entitled to such patronage. Legal experts are not so sure.
“To the best of my knowledge, MBS does not currently occupy one of those positions,” came Chimane, a professor at the University of California at Hastings College of Law. Keitner said. “It would be an innovation for the State Department to extend status-based immunity beyond that group.”
Apart from the case brought by Mr. Aljabari, Prince Mohammed is a subject Mr. Khashogi’s fiancee sued For his alleged role in the murder of a disgruntled writer. Al Jazeera is also a news anchor, Gada Oyus filed a lawsuit Against the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, stating that he is the target of the hacking operation as his reports are grave news of human rights abuses in the Middle East.
According to legal experts, the State Department may recommend that immunity be granted only to a foreign head of state or diplomats. The Department of Justice will eventually formalize the United States’ position in a filing in the case.
Ben hubbard Contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.