Judge puts Biden on the spot over immunity for Saudi crown prince

A US judge has asked the Biden administration to weigh in on whether Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case brought against him in the US by Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who was killed by Saudi agents in 2018.

John Bates, a district court judge, gave the US government until 1 August to declare its interests in the civil case or give the court notice that it has no view on the matter.

The administration’s decision could have a profound effect on the civil case and comes as Joe Biden is facing criticism for abandoning a campaign promise to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”.