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The CIA and DOJ are considering intervening in a lawsuit targeting the Saudi crown prince, fearing it will spill US counterterror secrets, report says

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Saudi and foreign media representatives listen to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman remotely addressing a press conference, at the G20 summit's Media Center in the capital Riyadh, on November 22, 2020. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images
  • A former Saudi spy chief, Saad al-Jabri, claims MBS tried to have him killed in Canada in 2018.

  • Al-Jabri, who worked closely with the CIA after 9/11, is suing MBS for damages in a US court.

  • The DOJ and CIA worry the lawsuit will reveal US secrets and may intervene, The Washington Post said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Biden administration may involve itself in a civil lawsuit targeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman because it fears US secrets could be revealed in court, The Washington Post's David Ignatius reported.

Saad al-Jabri, a former Saudi intelligence chief who fled in 2017, sued Crown Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, in a Washington, DC, court last August, alleging the prince sent a hit squad to kill him in Toronto in October 2018.

As a top Saudi Interior Ministry official for decades, al-Jabri worked closely with the CIA on anti-terror measures in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Lawyers for al-Jabri say MBS wants al-Jabri dead because he has access to sensitive information about the government and royal family, and was close Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted as the Saudi crown prince in June 2017.

Michael Kellogg, MBS's lawyer, filed a motion to dismiss al-Jabri's claim in December, arguing that the crown prince is immune from US prosecution as a head of state.

MBS Biden
A composite image of Crown Prince Mohammed and President Joe Biden. AP Photo/Susan Walsh/Sputnik via AFP

Attorneys for MBS have also accused al-Jabri of using his anti-terror programs to embezzle $3.4 billion from the Saudi state. Al-Jabri denies the claim.

To defend al-Jabri against this allegation, his lawyers have said in court filings that an "examination of the counterterrorism and national security activities of the United States Government" may be needed, The Post reported.

Read more: The 'brilliant legal mind' defending Saudi Arabia and its crown prince against claims of murder, hacking, and terrorism

The 'state secret privilege'

The Justice Department is concerned that this could reveal US secrets, The Post reported. The CIA is also reviewing the matter, a US official told The Post.

Insider has contacted the DOJ and CIA for comment. Lawyers for al-Jabri declined to comment. Lawyers for MBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

The Post reported that on April 26, the DOJ filed a document in a Massachusetts federal court stating that it was considering weighing in on the case given al-Jabri's intent "to describe information concerning alleged national security activities."

"Accordingly, the Government is considering whether and how to participate in this action, including if necessary and applicable, through an assertion of appropriate governmental privileges," the filing said, according to The Post.

The DOJ did not say in the filing how it would intervene, but The Post reported that it could invoke the "state secrets privilege."

This privilege would see the DOJ "resist court-ordered disclosure of information during civil litigation if there is a reasonable danger that such disclosure would harm the national security of the US," according to a 2011 document by the Congressional Research Service cited by The Post.

Barack Obama Mohammed bin Nayef Mohammed bin Salman
Then-President Barack Obama, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House in May 2015. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the August 2020 complaint, al-Jabri said that MBS had tried relentlessly to get him to return to Saudi Arabia to give testimony against his former boss, Mohammed bin Nayef.

Al-Jabri has accused MBS of kidnapping his children as "a source of leverage" to get him to return.

Omar and Sarah al-Jabri were seized from their beds at their father's home in Riyadh on March 16, 2020, and have not been heard from since.

The Post reported Thursday that the Biden administration was especially keen to see al-Jabri's children freed and to diffuse tensions in the case.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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