The motion to dismiss the case against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claims sovereign immunity from US courts.
Lawyers for Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) filed a motion on Monday evening to dismiss a lawsuit against him, saying there was no evidence to support claims he ordered a team to strike to assassinate a former Saudi intelligence official and that he was immune from charges in a US court.
The 106-page trial (PDF) was filed in August on behalf of Saad al-Jabri, a former aide in exile to former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former heir to the Saudi throne ousted in a 2017 palace coup that left MBS as the de facto ruler of the country.
Jabri claims he obtained information during his time as an aide and as a senior intelligence official that could threaten MBS, which prompted the Saudi Crown Prince to stage an assassination attempt on al-Jabri in using the so-called “Tiger”.
The trial says the alleged attempt took place 13 days after members of the Tiger squad were involved in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
The lawsuit says the plot was thwarted when members of the Tiger Squad arrived at the Canadian border and aroused suspicion from security officials.
But Michael Kellogg, an attorney representing MBS, said in the 87-page motion to dismiss that Jabri “can say whatever he wants to the papers.” But this case does not belong to the federal court ”.
The record asserts that al-Jabri being a dual Saudi-Maltese citizen living in Canada, where the alleged assassination attempt took place, he has no right to take the case to a US court.
According to the petition, “Even taking Aljabri’s allegations to be true, he does not and cannot allege that the alleged assault on his life in Canada was caused by conduct in the United States.
The complaint was filed in the United States under the Alien Tort Statute Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, which allows complaints against foreign nationals.
Further, Kellogg wrote that MBS enjoys immunity from prosecution against him, asserting that “the immunity of foreign officials from prosecution in the United States is governed by the doctrine of common law foreign sovereign immunity.” .
Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that grants sovereign states and heads of state immunity from prosecution.
Saudi sovereign immunity has been challenged in the past on the allegations the kingdom has supported the 9/11 hijackers responsible for the 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Saudi Arabia has denied these claims.
A 2016 law called Justice Against Promoters of Terrorism Act limited sovereign immunity for participation in international acts of “terror”, although the allegations in al-Jabri’s trial are unlikely to fall within this act.
The dismissal motion further claims that the trial is an attempt to deflect attention from Saudi allegations that al-Jabri stole $ 11 billion. Jabri has denied the allegations.
MBS and the Saudi government have been accused of various rights violations, including purges during a widespread crackdown on members of the Saudi royal family accused of corruption in 2017.