Blinken added, in a press conference in Doha: “We received a request from a federal court, which was reviewing a lawsuit through the US Department of Justice, to ascertain our opinion about the situation of Prince Muhammad bin Salman, and we conveyed an opinion based on a long-standing legal practice, which confirmed that the head of state or president The government or the foreign minister – from a legal point of view – deserves immunity.”
And the US Secretary of State stated, “The opinion that we presented does not speak in any way about the merits of the Khashoggi murder case, nor about the current state of bilateral relations between Washington and Riyadh, as we continue to review those relations.”
Lawyers for the US Department of Justice had said that the Saudi crown prince, in his capacity as “the current head of a foreign government”, “enjoys the immunity of the head of state in US courts as a result of that position.”
They affirmed that “the principle of immunity of the head of state is well established in customary international law.” But the Biden administration was keen to stress that the decision is not an acquittal.
“This is a legal decision made by the State Department under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law,” a spokesperson for the US National Security Council said in a statement, adding that the decision was “irrelevant to the facts of the case.”
On Tuesday, Blinken met with the Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman, within the framework of the fifth annual strategic dialogue between the United States and Qatar, which is being held in conjunction with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.