The publisher and CEO of The Washington Post slammed President Joe Biden for “granting a license to kill” to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince after Biden’s administration said Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be shielded from lawsuits related to the killing of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“In granting legal immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Biden is failing to uphold America’s most cherished values,” Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, said in a statement Friday. “He is granting a license to kill to one of the world’s most egregious human-rights abusers who is responsible for the cold-blooded murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.”
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced in a court filing that bin Salman is shielded from a lawsuit filed by the fiancée of Khashoggi, a Saudi national critical of the royal family who was killed and dismembered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The administration’s reasoning is based on the crown prince’s recent ascension to prime minister ― a title usually reserved for a member of the Saudi monarch ― that grants him legal protection from lawsuits.
The State Department said in its Thursday court filing that the decision to shield the crown prince from U.S. courts in Khashoggi’s murder was “purely a legal determination.”
Biden visited Saudi Arabia earlier this year to meet with the crown prince and was seen giving him a fist-bump during the visit.
Ryan said the American people “deserve better” from Biden.
“While legitimate heads of government should be protected from lawsuits, the Saudi’s decision to make MBS prime minister was a cynical, calculated effort to manipulate the law and shield him from accountability,” he said. “By going along with the scheme, President Biden is turning his back on fundamental principles of press freedom and equality. The American people ― and those wronged by MBS in Saudi Arabia and around the world ― deserve better.”