‘Put value on life, not oil’: Adam Schiff declares Biden decision to grant Mohammed bin Salman immunity in journalist’s murder ‘tragic’
- Journalist was murdered in 2018 by Saudi officials at consulate in Turkey
- U.S. intelligence says MBS was directly responsible for Khashoggi’s butchering
- Senior position of prince ‘should shield’ him, administration says
- ‘Jamal died again today,’ Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter
- ‘I think this is tragic decision. I don’t think it was necessary decision,’ he said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday morning
- Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal,’ Cengiz told CNN
- Marks a u-turn for Biden who promised ‘consequences’ for brutal slaying
- ‘I think it was a flat-out murder,’ Biden said in a 2019 CNN town hall
- US intelligence concluded that MBS approved the slaying of the journalist
Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff called President Biden’s decision to declare Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immune from any lawsuits relating to Jamal Khashoggi’s butchering at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018 ‘tragic.’
‘I think this is tragic decision. I don’t think it was necessary decision,’ he said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday morning.
‘This is a guy who was involved in the murder and dismemberment of a person residing in America a request and you know, we have to put our value on life, not oil.’
Still, Schiff said he would support President Biden running for president again in 2024 and said he had a ‘record’ number of accomplishments to run on.
Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée said President Joe Biden has betrayed the murdered journalist after his administration declared Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be immune.
The State Department said Saudi’s de facto ruler and prime minister should be shielded, despite U.S. intelligence saying he was responsible for the Washington Post writer’s murder and dismembering and Biden demanding ‘consequences’.
Saudi officials are believed to have accosted staunch regime critic Khashoggi in the consulate in October 2018 before cutting off his fingers, killing him and dismembering his body. His remains have never been found, but reports at the time said they had been removed in trash bags.
Audio tape released believed to be from Khashoggi’s Apple Watch captured his dying screams when he was allegedly dragged from the Saudi Consul General’s office to a table in a next-door study, injected with an ‘unknown drug’ and surgically dismembered.
‘Jamal died again today,’ Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter minutes after the news became public and months after Biden said he confronted MBS over the slaying after their fist-bump in Jeddah.
The President insisted he was ‘straightforward and direct’ with the Crown Prince in telling him the killing was unacceptable when they spoke in July.
Cengiz added later: ‘We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first.’
‘Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the hereafter?’ she added.
Khashoggi, who was a resident of the US, had walked into his country’s consulate on October 2 2018 for an appointment to pick up documents that would allow him to get married. He never walked out.
‘I think this is tragic decision. I don’t think it was necessary decision,’ he said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday morning
The Biden administration declared Thursday that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince should be considered immune from a lawsuit over his role in the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying his position should ‘shield’ him
Last moments: Khashoggi was last seen on October 2, 2018, entering the consulate in Istanbul where he was accosted and killed by Saudi agents
Saudi officials killed Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. They are believed to have dismembered him, although his remains have never been found
‘Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal,’ Cengiz told CNN in an interview Friday morning. ‘History will not forget this wrong decision.’
Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell said she was ‘very disturbed’ by the decision during an interview with CNN on Friday.
A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Mr Khashoggi inside the consulate.
They included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office.
Turkish officials allege Mr Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw.
The request is non-binding and a judge will ultimately decide whether to grant immunity.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up imprisonment and other retaliation against peaceful critics at home and abroad and has cut oil production, a move seen as undercutting efforts by the US and its allies to punish Russia for its war against Ukraine.
The State Department on Thursday said the administration’s call to shield the Saudi crown prince from courts in Khashoggi’s killing is ‘purely a legal determination.’
It also cited what it said was a long-standing precedent. Despite its recommendation to the court, the State Department said in its filing late Thursday that it ‘takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi.’
The Biden administration statement Thursday noted visa restrictions and other penalties that it had meted out to lower-ranking Saudi officials in the death.
‘From the earliest days of this Administration, the United States Government has expressed its grave concerns regarding Saudi agents´ responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder,’ the State Department said.
Its statement did not mention the crown prince’s own alleged role.
Biden as a candidate vowed to make a ‘pariah’ out of Saudi rulers over the 2018 killing of Khashoggi.
‘I think it was a flat-out murder,’ Biden said in a 2019 CNN town hall, as a candidate. ‘And I think we should have nailed it as that. I publicly said at the time we should treat it that way and there should be consequences relating to how we deal with those — that power.’
But Biden as president has sought to ease tensions with the kingdom, including bumping fists with Prince Mohammed on a July trip to the kingdom, as the U.S. works to persuade Saudi Arabia to undo a series of cuts in oil production.
‘Jamal died again today,’ Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter minutes after the news became public. She added later: ‘We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first.’
‘Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the hereafter?’ she added
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh. US intelligence concluded Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had approved the killing of widely known and respected journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and DAWN sued the crown prince, his top aides and others in Washington federal court over their alleged roles in Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi Arabia says the prince had no direct role in the slaying.
‘It´s beyond ironic that President Biden has singlehandedly assured MBS can escape accountability when it was President Biden who promised the American people he would do everything to hold him accountable,’ the head of DAWN, Sarah Leah Whitson, said in a statement, using the prince’s acronym.
Biden in February 2021 had ruled out the U.S. government imposing punishment on Prince Mohammed himself in the killing of Khashoggi, a resident of the Washington area.
Biden, speaking after he authorized release of a declassified version of the intelligence community’s findings on Prince Mohammed’s role in the killing, argued at the time there was no precedent for the U.S. to move against the leader of a strategic partner.
The US military long has safeguarded Saudi Arabia from external enemies, in exchange for Saudi Arabia keeping global oil markets afloat.
‘It’s impossible to read the Biden administration’s move today as anything more than a capitulation to Saudi pressure tactics, including slashing oil output to twist our arms to recognize MBS’s fake immunity ploy,’ Whitson said.
A federal judge in Washington had given the US government until midnight Thursday to express an opinion on the claim by the crown prince’s lawyers that Prince Mohammed’s high official standing renders him legally immune in the case.
The Biden administration also had the option of not stating an opinion either way.
Sovereign immunity, a concept rooted in international law, holds that states and their officials are protected from some legal proceedings in other foreign states´ domestic courts.
Saudi were seen gathering outside the consulate in Istanbul in 2018, in front of the door where Khashoggi entered but never returned
Khashoggi and his fiancee Cengiz are seen at an apartment building in Istanbul hours before his brutal dismemberment
Upholding the concept of ‘sovereign immunity’ helps ensure that American leaders in turn don’t have to worry about being hauled into foreign courts to face lawsuits in other countries, the State Department said.
Human rights advocates had argued that the Biden administration would embolden Prince Mohammed and other authoritarian leaders around the world in more rights abuses if it supported the crown prince’s claim that his high office shielded him from prosecution.
Prince Mohammed serves as Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in the stead of his aged father, King Salman.
The Saudi king in September also temporarily transferred his title of prime minister — a title normally held by the Saudi monarch – to Prince Mohammed. Critics called it a bid to strengthen Mohammed´s immunity claim.
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