Saudi Arabia wants the U.S. to act before Jan. 20, when President Donald Trump leaves office and Joe Biden — who has promised a tougher stance toward the kingdom — becomes president, the person said.
December 24, 2020
Trump Team Weighs Immunity For Saudi Prince In Assassination Plot: Report
The case against Prince Mohammed was filed in federal court in Washington in August.
The Trump administration is weighing a Saudi request to grant Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immunity from prosecution over accusations that he orchestrated a conspiracy to kill a former high-level Saudi official, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The State Department’s legal office is considering the request and will present its findings to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who would make a recommendation to the Department of Justice, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing ongoing litigation. The case against Prince Mohammed was filed in federal court in Washington in August.
Saudi Arabia wants the U.S. to act before Jan. 20, when President Donald Trump leaves office and Joe Biden — who has promised a tougher stance toward the kingdom — becomes president, the person said. Granting immunity could also deal a fatal blow to a separate case in which the crown prince is accused in the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
The current case accuses the crown prince of deploying operatives in the U.S. to track down Saad Aljabri, a former high-level official who has worked with U.S. intelligence agencies, and then dispatching a team to murder him. Aljabri’s lawsuit says a team of Saudi hit men flew to Canada to assassinate him but were stopped by border officials.
Aljabri said in the lawsuit that he became privy to sensitive information about Prince Mohammed’s “covert political scheming within the Royal Court” as well as his business dealings and his role in creating a team of operatives to kill Khashoggi. Saudi officials have accused Aljabri of corruption, claims his family has dismissed as politically motivated.
‘Rushed Political Favor’
The Saudi Embassy in Washington and the government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Lawyers for the Saudi government also didn’t respond. The Washington Post reported earlier that the State Department was weighing the immunity request.
The State Department press office didn’t reply to a request for comment, but in the past a spokesperson has said Aljabri was a respected and valued partner in the fight against terrorism whose work had saved American and Saudi lives. Aljabri’s legal team declined to comment.
Aljabri’s family said the decision about immunity shouldn’t be rushed.