Saudi Crown Prince MbS summoned to US court via WhatsApp over 'assassination attempt'

Saudi Crown Prince MbS summoned to US court via WhatsApp over 'assassination attempt'
Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been summoned to court via the WhatsApp messaging platform over torture charges.
3 min read
30 October, 2020
Mohammed bin Salman had reportedly read the message [Getty]
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was served with a court summons from Washington DC via WhatsApp on allegations of torture, as well as ordering the "hit squad" that murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi to assassinate a Saudi dissident.

The case was filed by former security adviser Dr Saad Al-Jabri, who alleges in court documents that Salman had sent a group to assassinate him in Canada.

On 22 September, the crown prince received a summons via the popular messaging app on charges of torture and directing an assassination against Al-Jabri with the same "Tiger Squad" that killed Saudi journalist, Khashoggi.

Al-Jabri had been a former advisor to the Saudi royal family.

The court documents confirm a read receipt by MbS, and a computer forensics investigator called Thomas Musters confirmed that the message had been "successfully delivered".

"I was able to confirm that the Service Package and the Service Messages were delivered to each Alternative Service Defendant via WhatsApp, meaning that the message was successfully delivered to the recipient's phone," Thomas Musters, a computer forensics investigator, wrote in an affidavit filed to the court on Thursday.

"Additionally, I was able to confirm that the Service Package and the Service Messages were opened by Defendants bin Salman, MiSK Foundation (served through Defendant bin Salman), Algasem, Alsaleh, and Alhamed, because WhatsApp displayed read receipts for the Service Package and the Service Messages."

The message was sent on 4:05pm Eastern Time and marked delivered, and at 4:25pm it was marked as "read" by MbS.

Washington also sent summons to 9 other Saudi officials, including Badr Al-Asaker, Saud Al-Qahtani and Ahmed Asiri, and the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK) was also subpoenaed.

The lawsuit alleges that bin Salman sent a 50 person assassination team to "assassinate" him in October 2018, not long after Saudi author and journalist Khashoggi was brutally murdered in Istanbul.

Al-Jabri stated in the lawsuit that he believed he was a target of MbS due to his intimate knowledge of the royal family and the Saudi court system.

An instrumental case

US lawyers were appointed to defend Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his aides in a lawsuit filed by former Saudi official Saad Al-Jabri, a report said on Monday.

Bin Salman, his manager Badr Al-Asaker, his advisor Saud Al-Qahtani and former Saudi Deputy Chief of Intelligence Ahmed Asiri will be represented by American lawyers in the US case.

Al-Jabri, a former aide of former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, is thought to hold compromising intelligence on MbS, the kingdom's de-facto ruler.

Al-Jabri filed the US lawsuit in August.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia issued the summons shortly after, notifying MbS of the lawsuit.

Saudi accounts loyal to the crown prince considered that the move to appoint "accomplished US lawyers" would be "catastrophic" for Al Jabri.

Al-Jabri is accused by Riyadh for embezzeling billions of dollars in state funds but critics say the accusation is politically-motivated.

In recent months, Saudi authorities have reportedly arrested some of Al-Jabri's relatives and family members, including two of his children – 21-year old Omar and 20-year old Sarah – to try to force his return to the kingdom from exile in Canada.

Shortly after coming to power in 2017, MbS launched a purge targeting a number of high-profile officials and businessmen in the kingdom.

The mass 'anti-corruption' arrest campaigns are widely seen as an attempt by the crown prince to consolidate his power within the kingdom.

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