Court asserts lack of jurisdiction over MBS and co-conspirators
(December 6, 2022, Washington D.C.): The district court today ruled to dismiss the lawsuit pending against Mohamed bin Salman and twenty of his co-conspirators for the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the organization Khashoggi founded prior to his murder, and Hatice Cengiz, his widow, had filed the lawsuit in federal district court in 2020.
"DAWN's lawsuit against Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) for his ruthless murder of Jamal Khashoggi is only one part of our continued efforts for justice and accountability for this crime, and the many other crimes the Saudi government is perpetrating against its own citizens," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN. "While we are disappointed in the decision, we will consider all options to continue our legal challenges to MBS's criminal behavior."
The court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds against MBS, citing the Biden administration's intervention in the case suggesting immunity for MBS as head of government on November 17 as the reason for its decision. The Biden administration intervention followed a Saudi royal decree appointing him "prime minister" six days before the court's prior October 3 deadline for the government's intervention, in a last ditch effort to escape the jurisdiction of the court.
The court also dismissed the case against two other defendants who had been served, Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri stating that plaintiffs had not sufficiently established personal jurisdiction against them. DAWN disputes these conclusions as a matter of fact and law.