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Washington Post CEO denounces Biden granting Saudi crown prince ‘legal immunity’: Gave MBS ‘license to kill’

Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan issued a condemnation of the president Joe Biden’s latest show of diplomacy to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accusing the president of giving the member of the Saudi royal family a “license to kill”.

Ryan also claimed that Biden was “turning his back” on “press freedom” by requesting immunity for the prince from a lawsuit he faced over the 2018 killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Fox News Digital reported Friday that the Biden administration has requested that the Saudi crown prince be granted immunity from other foreign state courts’ lawsuits against him for the journalist’s murder.

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President Biden is welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15.  The prince reportedly mocked Biden privately and said he was not impressed with him.

President Biden is welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15. The prince reportedly mocked Biden privately and said he was not impressed with him.
(Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Khashoggi was killed by Saudi government officials in 2018 after he criticized the crown prince’s methods in dealing with dissidents and critics.

Fox News Digital reported on the specific lawsuit the prince wants to dodge, saying: “Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, and Democracy for the Arab World Now have filed a lawsuit against Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their roles in the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.”

Critics, including Washington Post columnist David Ignatiusalso accused the recent elevation of Bin Salman to Saudi prime minister as part of this plot to avoid consequences for the murder.

Ignatius told MSNBC, “What’s troubling here is that the decision to elevate him to prime minister … came three days before the deadline set by Judge Bates for a ruling on this question of the Department of Justice and the State Department whether he was entitled to immunity. In other words, that was the only way he was going to get it, and it came in at the 11th hour.”

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia takes his seat before a working lunch at the G20 summit, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia takes his seat before a working lunch at the G20 summit, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.
(Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)

The decision to grant Bin Salman immunity will ultimately be decided by a judge, but human rights activists, lawmakers and media outlets such as the Washington Post are rejecting the move.

Ryan issued a scathing condemnation of Biden for the move in a statement released by the newspaper on Friday.

He said: “In granting legal immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Biden is failing to uphold America’s most cherished values. He gives a license to kill to one of the world’s most heinous human rights abusers who is responsible for the cold-blooded murder of Jamal Kashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.”

People hold posters depicting Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and light candles during a rally outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. - Washington Post Contributor Jamal Khashoggi on October 2 2018 killed after a visit to the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiancee.

People hold posters depicting Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and light candles during a rally outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. – Washington Post Contributor Jamal Khashoggi on October 2 2018 killed after a visit to the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiancee.
(YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Ryan went on to condemn the ploy to make bin Salman the prime minister of his country to bolster his legal defense. “While legitimate heads of government must be protected from frivolous lawsuits, the Saudis’ decision to make MBS prime minister was a cynical, calculated attempt to manipulate the law and shield him from accountability.”

He then blasted Biden for taking part in the ruse: “By going along with this scheme, President Biden is turning his back on fundamental principles of press freedom and equality. The American people — and those who have been oppressed by MBS in Saudi Arabia and across the world is wronged – deserves better.”

Fox News’ Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.

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