(NEW YORK)—In response to the State Department’s recognition of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as head of government, and therefore subject to sovereign immunity in a civil case regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Nadine Farid Johnson, managing director of PEN America’s Washington Office, issued the following statement: 

“After promises of seeking justice for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, it is deeply disappointing to see the Biden Administration take the voluntary step of shielding Mohamed bin Salman from accountability for this egregious crime. Accountability in Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s murder was always a lost cause; closing off paths to justice for Khashoggi in the U.S., acquiescing to the cynical elevation of MBS to the role of Prime Minister just days before this court filing, suggests that the Administration has let realpolitik win out over the defense of human rights. This despite the U.S. Government’s own investigation determining that MBS was ultimately responsible for the murder, having ordered Khashoggi’s brutal demise. Granting Mohamed bin Salman immunity in this case is also granting him impunity, which sets a dangerous precedent, putting journalists and dissidents around the world at greater risk.”