January 29, 2023

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US Court Dismisses Suit Against Saudi Crown Prince in Khashoggi Killing

2 min read

Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, an advocacy group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Cengiz, wrote on Twitter that the court’s decision was “sad news for accountability.” She said that the group was consulting with lawyers on the next steps and that “our struggle for justice continues.”

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said on Tuesday night that he was “deeply disappointed” by the court’s action, and he criticized Biden administration officials for the legal finding last month.

“The administration’s deliberate and callous decision goes against President Biden’s repeated commitments to Jamal Khashoggi’s family, and it sends a horrific message to despots around the world,” he said in a written statement. “The architects of Khashoggi’s brutal murder must be held accountable for their heinous crime. His family and loved ones deserve justice.”

Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who wrote columns in The Washington Post criticizing the prince and the kingdom’s government, was strangled by Saudi agents and then dismembered. During the 2020 presidential campaign, President Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for the killing and other human rights abuses. As one of his first foreign policy actions in office, Mr. Biden authorized the release of a U.S. intelligence report that said Prince Mohammed had approved the killing.

Mr. Biden kept his distance from the kingdom and criticized its human rights record, but this summer he bowed to suggestions from top national security aides that he should try to repair relations with Prince Mohammed. He reluctantly visited the kingdom in July and exchanged a fist bump with the prince, which drew widespread condemnation from senior Democratic lawmakers and human rights advocates.

In October, the prince led OPEC Plus, a cartel of oil-producing nations, in announcing a steep cut in production, which infuriated Mr. Biden and created a new rupture in U.S.-Saudi relations. Mr. Biden accused the prince of siding with Russia, which relies on high oil prices to support its spending during its war on Ukraine.

Top Biden aides thought they had reached a secret agreement with Saudi officials in May to increase oil production through the end of this year, though officials in Riyadh have denied making such promises.