In a way saying the US does not trust the Indian judiciary that did not find then-Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi culpable in any way for the 2002 communal riots in his state, Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, insinuated today that letting Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman enter America despite the accusation of his involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the same as letting Modi enter that country when he became the prime minister of India. “This is not the first time that the United States has done this. It is a longstanding and consistent line of effort,” the US official said.
Stating that the immunity “has been applied to a number of heads of state previously”, Patel cited various examples comprising “President Aristide in Haiti in 1993, President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001, Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014, and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018.”
In 2005 under the apparent influence of Christian propaganda against Hindus (ref: link below) — with some incitement from a certain quarter in India — the US had placed Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, on a visa ban in the wake of 2002 riots. The ban was only lifted in 2014 with his election as the prime minister, with the United States maintaining that it had not changed its policy.
Read Surajit Dasgupta’s 5 May 2014 article, “Who blocked Modi’s passage to US and why“
“This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” the US State Department said.
The Biden administration had ruled on 17 November that Mohammed bin Salman had immunity from a lawsuit over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, drawing immediate condemnation from the slain journalist’s former fiancee.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in October 2018 by Saudi agents in the consulate of the kingdom in Istanbul, Turkey, an operation that US intelligence believed was ordered by Prince Mohammed, who has been the kingdom’s de facto ruler for several years. In September, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz had named his son and heir Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom’s prime minister.
“Prime Minister bin Salman is immune from suit in US courts while he holds the office of prime minister. He is the head of government. It has nothing to do with the merits of this case. The immunity determination is a legal one,” the US State Department said.