Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be held "accountable" for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite the Biden administration's decision to grant immunity to the royal.
The administration late last week declared that Mohammed's standing as prime minister shielded him from a U.S. lawsuit over what the U.S. intelligence community says was his role in Saudi officials' 2018 killing of U.S.-based Khashoggi. A judge will decide whether the prince has immunity.
"The State Department's decision to intervene in this case undermined the ability to hold the Crown Prince accountable for his crime," Wyden tweeted Monday afternoon.
"I call on @POTUS Biden to honor his commitment to hold MBS accountable and to reexamine our relationship with the Saudis."
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby insisted Friday that the administration's declaration of immunity for the crown prince was purely a "legal determination" that "has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the case itself."
Khashoggi's fiancée filed a lawsuit against Mohammed in 2020. Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an incident which the CIA concluded was ordered by the crown prince.
The State Department said Mohammed could not be sued in federal court due to his status as sitting head of a foreign national government.
"In making this immunity determination, the Department of State takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi," the department wrote in a court filing, The Hill reported.
Wyden previously called on Biden to openly condemn Saudi Arabia's human rights record, especially before meeting with Mohammed in July.
The Oregon senator released a statement weeks before the meeting urging Biden "to insist on accountability for those responsible for the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the killing of Portland's Fallon Smart and other victims of Saudi citizens who have fled U.S. justice."
Smart, a 15-year-old Oregon native, was fatally hit by a speeding driver in 2016. The driver, a Saudi national, fled back to his home country just weeks before his trial.
"The United States cannot value Saudi oil more highly than the blood of Fallon Smart and Jamal Khashoggi," said Wyden said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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