Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell said on Friday she was “stunned” by the Biden administration’s determination to grant Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immunity from the Jamal Khashoggi m*rder trial.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was critical of Salman and the ruling royal family, was allegedly killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA determined this year that Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, although the Saudi government has denied all allegations that it was involved in his d*ath.
The lawsuit at the development center was brought by Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, and the human rights group he founded, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
In letter In a letter to Chief Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton on Thursday, Acting State Department Counsel Richard Visek wrote that the department “recognizes and permits” Salman’s immunity as the incumbent head of a foreign government.
Visek said that in deciding on immunity, the State Department “has not taken a position on the merits of this lawsuit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous m*rder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
He added that the State Department had asked the Department of Justice to submit a suggestion regarding Salman’s immunity to the district court involved in the lawsuit.
The decision on immunity is not binding and the final decision will ultimately rest with the judge, the Associated Press reported.
Dingle was asked about the development while performing on CNN This morning on Friday.
“I’ll be very honest,” Dingle replied. “I was stunned when I read it this morning.”
She said she had been texting her staff and working to understand the details of the problem, adding that she thought it was “very complicated”.
“I’m trying to think. I’m trying to have my facts but I can’t turn my head… I mean, we know someone was m*rdered, so I’m obviously not comfortable this morning and I want to understand why they did what they did,” Dingle continued.
Dingle wasn’t the only character who seemed surprised by the determination of immunity.
“Jamal died again today” – Cengiz tweeted Friday.
DAWN executive Sarah Lee Whitson also responded to the decision in a statement on the group’s website. She called it “an unnecessary, elective action that will only serve to undermine the most important action to hold Khashoggi accountable for the heinous m*rder.”
Newsweek contacted Dingle’s office and the State Department for comment. Newsweek he had previously contacted the White House for comment regarding an objection to an immunity determination.
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