White House Seeks Delay over Saudi Crown Prince Immunity Decision

The Biden administration is seeking a 45-day delay in a court proceeding over the murder of Washington Post columnist, Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi. 

The White House has been asked by a U.S. judge whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be granted sovereign immunity in a case involving the murder of Khashoggi.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice said in a legal notice that the department was seeking the extension after Saudi Arabia announced in a press release last week that Prince Mohammed had been named prime minister.

The 37-year-old prince is facing a civil case in the United States for his alleged role in the murder of Khashoggi. The legal case is being heard in a district court in Washington D.C. It was filed against Prince Mohammed by Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, and Dawn, a pro-democracy group founded by the journalist before he was killed.

The Biden administration is not formally a party to the case but was invited to weigh in on the matter. 

President Joe Biden took a trip to Jeddah over the summer, during which the two leaders discussed boosting security cooperation and boosting oil production. 

The Biden administration had until October 3 to respond to a series of legal questions about whether Prince Mohammed should be granted legal immunity, which traditionally is granted to a state’s ruler, like a prime minister, president, or king.

Prince Mohammed has said he has taken responsibility for the murder but that he did not order the killing.

In the filing, the Biden administration acknowledged more time was needed due to Prince’s recent elevation to the role of prime minister. 

“In light of these changed circumstances, the United States requests a second extension of time of 45 days to prepare its response to the Court’s invitation,” the administration said in a notice to the court. “The United States appreciates the Court’s patience and consideration in this matter.”

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