The Trump administration is mulling immunity for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed, who is accused of sending a hit squad to kill an exiled spy chief
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on September 18, 2019 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Bandar Algaloud / Reuters
The U.S. government is deciding whether to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is accused of attempting to assassinate an exiled Saudi official, the Washington Post reported.
Saad al-Jabri, who previously served in the top echelons of the Saudi interior ministry, sued Crown Prince Mohammed in a U.S. federal court in August, claiming the prince sent a hit party to kill him in Canada in October 2018.
The prince dismissed the allegations in a December 7 motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the crown prince, as head of state, was safe from prosecution.
According to The Post, in November the State Department asked al-Jabri lawyers to give their legal opinion on whether to grant immunity to Crown Prince Mohammed.
Al-Jabri's son, Khalid, told the Post that granting the Crown Prince immunity "is like granting a license to kill".
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President Donald Trump's administration is deciding whether to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was accused in a US federal court of killing an exiled spy chief, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
In August, Saad al-Jabri, who headed the Saudi interior ministry for decades, sued Crown Prince Mohammed in federal court in Washington, DC, alleging that a hit team had been sent to Toronto, Canada, to kill him in October 2018.
Canadian border officials refused entry to the hit team known as the "Tiger Squad Defendants," the complaint said.
According to The Post, al-Jabri lawyers received a letter from the US State Department in November asking their legal views on whether it would be right to grant immunity to the Crown Prince.
One key line of defense presented by Crown Prince Mohammed's lawyer, Michael Kellogg, in a motion to dismiss the December 7, 2020 lawsuit, was that the prince, as a world leader, was safe from prosecution.
"The immunity of foreign officials from the lawsuit in the United States is governed by the doctrine of immunity of foreign sovereign states under common law," wrote Kellogg on the 69-page file.
The motion to dismiss specifically did not contradict any of al-Jabri's allegations and instead focused on undermining his legal arguments.
It is not clear whether there was any communication between the Crown Prince's lawyers and State Department officials who made decisions about granting immunity.
The Foreign Ministry and the lawyers of al-Jabri and Crown Prince Mohammed did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Al-Jabri's son, Khalid, a cardiologist living in Canada, told the Post that offering immunity to Crown Prince Mohammed would be akin to sanctioning murder.
"If this were granted, the US would essentially grant MBS immunity for conduct that managed to kill Jamal Khashoggi and did not kill my father," he said, using a popular acronym for Crown Prince Mohammed.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 20, 2019. Bandar Algaloud / Courtesy of the Saudi Royal Court / Handout via Reuters
Khashoggi, a US-based writer for the Washington Post, was murdered in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018. The CIA has concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed likely ordered the murder.
"Lack of accountability is one thing, but allowing impunity through immunity is like being licensed to kill," Khalid al-Jabri told the Post in Monday's article.
In order to grant immunity, the State Department would have to submit a recommendation on immunity to the Justice Department, which would then decide whether to approve it, the Post reported.
Al-Jabri fled Saudi Arabia to Canada in 2017 after Crown Prince Mohammed removed control of the country from the incumbent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
Al-Jabri feared his deep knowledge of the royal court and its connection with bin Nayef would put him in jail, according to his August complaint.
"There is a consensus in Saudi government circles that people like al-Jabri must remain calm, and it is they who are changing or damaging the Saudi image abroad," Umer Karim, a visiting scholar at the Royal United Services Institute, told Insider earlier.
Although al-Jabri lives in Canada and is a two-time Saudi Maltese citizen, he filed the lawsuit in the US, citing his worth to the US government from his time working on counter-terrorism projects with the administration of President George W. Bush .
Al-Jabri worked closely with the CIA on counter-terrorism projects after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the then Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on December 14, 2016 in Riyadh. Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Royal Council
"Dr. Saad is uniquely positioned to threaten the existence of the defendant bin Salman's reputation with the US government," wrote al-Jabri's lawyers in their 107-page complaint in August.
"This is why the Defendant bin Salman wants him dead - and why the Defendant bin Salman has worked for the past three years to achieve that goal."
Read more: Jared Kushner helped start a Trump campaign shell firm that secretly paid the president's family members and spent $ 617 million on re-election
MBS tried to lure al-Jabri back to Saudi Arabia
Since Al-Jabri fled Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed has tried several times to lure him back and asked him to participate in investigations against former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
In one case, Crown Prince Mohammed personally wrote to al-Jabri on September 10, 2017 that he would take measures that would be "harmful to you" if he did not return home, according to al-Jabri's lawsuit.
Al-Jabri denied the requests and in March 2020 two of his children were abducted from their beds in Riyadh. Al-Jabri said in his complaint that they are being used as a lever to force him to return to Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Crown Prince Mohammed al-Jabri's legal team has accused of mistreating or stealing $ 11 billion in government funds while working at the Saudi Interior Ministry. Al-Jabri denied allegations of stealing in August, calling them "hoaxes".
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