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 President Joe Biden’s latest display of diplomacy to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accusing the president of the giving the member of the Saudi royal family a “license to kill.”

Ryan also claimed that Biden is “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 requested the Saudi crown prince be granted immunity from other foreign state courts’ lawsuits against him for the killing of the journalist.

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President Biden being welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15. The prince reportedly mocked Biden in private and said he is unimpressed with him. 

President Biden being welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15. The prince reportedly mocked Biden in private and said he is unimpressed with him. 
(Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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

Fox News Digital reported on the specific lawsuit the prince is looking to dodge, stating, “Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, and Democracy for the Arab World Now 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 Ignatius, also accused the recent elevation of bin Salman to Saudi prime minister as a part of this plot to avoid consequences for the killing. 

Ignatius told MSNBC, “What’s disturbing here is that the decision to elevate him to prime minister…came three days before the deadline that Judge Bates had set for a ruling on this question from the Justice Department and the State Department of whether he was entitled to immunity. In other words, this 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 ahead of 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 ahead of 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, like the Washington Post, are decrying the move. 

Ryan issued a searing condemnation of Biden for the move in a statement put out by the paper on Friday.

He stated, “In granting legal immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Biden is failing to uphold America’s most cherished values. 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 Kashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.”

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and lightened candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. - Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed on October 2, 2018 after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiancee. 

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

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Ryan continued, condemning the ploy to make bin Salman prime minister of his country to bolster his legal defenses. “While legitimate heads of government should be protected against frivolous lawsuits, the Saudis’ decision to make MBS prime minister was a cynical, calculated effort to manipulate the law and shield him from accountability.”

He then blasted Biden for participating in the ploy: “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 wronged by MBS in Saudi Arabia and around the world – deserve better.”

Fox News’ Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.

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