The son of a US citizen jailed by Saudi Arabia for tweeting slammed President Biden for demonstrating “the definition of hypocrisy” after the administration said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity for his role in the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Justice Department and State Department said Thursday that the crown prince, commonly known by his initials MBS, cannot be sued in US courts because of his role as Saudi prime minister, a post he assumed Sept. 27 in what critics call a ploy to avoid legal accountability.
Ibrahim Almadi told The Post on Friday that he had planned to follow in the steps of Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz and sue MBS in an effort to hold the de facto Saudi leader responsible for detaining his father Saad Almadi, 72, who has been detained since a 2021 trip to the kingdom in order to sell family assets.
“I have the lawyers prepared and everything is prepared,” Almadi said. “But Biden just killed our dreams and gave MBS the green light to kill everyone’s dreams.”
The White House repeatedly expressed concern last month for the elder Almadi after his son said Biden “sold my father for oil” while patching up relations with MBS — giving him a fist-bump during a July visit as part of an effort to lower oil prices ahead of the midterm elections.
“We appreciate and respect the anguish that the family is going through,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told The Post at an Oct. 26 briefing. “It’s never far from our minds. And, you know, we’ll work as hard as we can to get these cases resolved.”
But Almadi claimed Friday he has heard no updates from the US government since publicly slamming the Biden administration’s missteps, which included the State Department admitting it had failed to send someone to the Oct. 3 sentencing hearing where his father received a 16-year, 3-month penalty linked to 14 tweets that were mildly critical of MBS.
As far as Ibrahim Almadi is aware, a US official most recently visited his father in prison on Aug. 10. Biden did not publicly mention the case while visiting Saudi Arabia the prior month.
“With this action [in the Khashoggi case], Biden clearly gives the green light to MBS to do whatever he wants to do to Americans and everybody else — a green, green light for MBS to kill whoever he wants and do whatever he wants,” Almadi said.
“I guarantee this: my father won’t be the last victim and Khashoggi won’t be the last victim.”
Almadi said that he voted for Biden in 2020 in part because of his promises to push for human rights overseas — including making the Saudi government an international “pariah” over the murder of Khashoggi, who was a Virginia resident at the time of his death.
The US intelligence community assessed that MBS ordered the operation that killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“I think it’s quite concerning that we have a president that gives promises and he can’t deliver,” Ibrahim Almadi said. “If [former President Donald] Trump was in position, [detained basketball star Brittney] Griner would be out [of Russia], my father would be out and the oil prices would still remain under two bucks in Florida.”
Almadi added, “Since Biden took this action of preventing me from suing MBS for all of the damages that he caused to me and to my father, I think he clearly marketed the freedom of speech in his presidential campaign to collect the immigrants’ votes, that’s it. That’s clearly the situation because there’s no action that’s been taken in my father’s case.”
The Justice Department had stalled the Khashoggi lawsuit — including requesting in July more time to weigh its response, within days of Biden’s visit with MBS.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of human rights group DAWN, which backed the lawsuit, tweeted Thursday night, “Caving into MBS’ immunity ploy — when silence was an option for the administration — not only rewards MBS for his intransigence, including continued attacks on activists in the US — but signals GO to tyrants around the world. Have oil & $? You’re safe whatever your crimes.”
Whitson added that it was a “remarkable act of weakness by the Biden [administration] to offer up a voluntary concession to MBS in face of insults and betrayals” and that it’s “also wrong as a matter of law because King is head of state and head of government in Saudi’s absolute monarchy.”
Biden earned widespread scorn for his administration’s decision to intervene in the case.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote, “The Biden administration accepts the Saudi crown prince’s transparent ploy to avoid civil liability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The prince named himself ‘prime minister’ so he would have an official title and get sovereign immunity. Shameful.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote, “The Biden administration is moving to shield the Saudi crown prince from a lawsuit for the murder of WashPost columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The coddling of murderous dictators never ends well, as we’re now seeing with Vladimir Putin. Sad to see Biden doing this.”
Biden moved to rehabilitate MBS after US gas prices hit all-time average highs of more than $5 per gallon in June, though he denied that his July trip to Saudi Arabia was primarily about oil.
MBS proceeded to humiliate Biden by announcing oil production cuts, ignoring private pleas to delay the cuts until after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The Saudi-led OPEC+ cartel on Oct. 5 announced a 2% production cut going into November.
House Republicans have floated Biden’s possible impeachment for asking the Saudis to postpone OPEC+ cuts until after the election — with No. 3 House Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) calling it a “very egregious, inappropriate and illegal action by the president.”