(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge tossed a lawsuit brought against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in response to input from the Biden administration that claimed he was immune in his newly-appointed prime minister post.
Most Read from Bloomberg
The court, under separation of powers, must yield to the executive branch despite its “uneasiness, then, with both the circumstances of bin Salman’s appointment and the credible allegations of his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder,” wrote US District Judge John Bates in a filing in Washington.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancé and plaintiff in the lawsuit, accused Saudi Arabia of trying to manipulate US courts by appointing the crown prince as head of government only six days before the Justice Department’s deadline to weigh in on the case.
The government wrote that the crown prince can’t be sued in the US because his position as head of government gave him immunity under international law. In its filing, the US government wrote that it “has expressed grave concerns regarding Jamal Khashoggi’s horrific killing and has raised these concerns publicly and with the most senior levels of the Saudi government.”
Cengiz, who was engaged to Khashoggi when he was killed, sued bin Salman and others, accusing the crown prince of ordering the murder. Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi regime, in 2018 was killed and his body was dismembered.
The US intelligence community concluded that bin Salman approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi. The crown prince has denied involvement in the killing.
Bates warned that diplomacy between countries could be disrupted if the judiciary starts meddling in “foreign immunity decisions” of the executive branch.
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.