The CIA and DOJ are considering intervening in a lawsuit targeting the Saudi crown prince, fearing it will spill US counterterror secrets, report says
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
In the August 2020 complaint, al-Jabri said that MBS had tried relentlessly to get him to return to
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.
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