Two lawsuits in the United States and Canada pitting the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia against a former Saudi intelligence official threaten to expose U.S. government secrets, prompting Washington to consider rare judicial intervention, according to documents seen by AFP.
These cases concern allegations of corruption made by Saudi state-owned enterprises against Saad Aljabri, the kingdom’s former chief spy who has long worked with US officials on covert counterterrorism operations. They are the latest twists and turns in the long-standing feud between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known by his initials MBS, and Saad Aljabri.
Saad Aljabri caught in the rivalry between two princes?
Saad Aljabri is close to Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who lost his heir to the throne status to MBS in 2017 and is being held in Saudi Arabia. Now the de facto ruler of the kingdom, MBS has since led a relentless crackdown on opponents of the regime, including within the ruling family.
Denying any financial malfeasance, Saad Aljabri says he is caught up in the rivalry between the two princes.
These rivalries worry even the United States. The US Department of Justice took a rare step in April when it handed over to a Massachusetts court a document stating that the former spy intended, in the prosecution against him, to “report information about alleged national security activities ”.
Washington ready to intervene
“The US government is considering whether and how to participate in this action, including, if necessary, asserting appropriate government privileges,” the document said, without further details. In May, the American justice asked the court for an additional delay.
Legal experts say Washington could invoke “state secret privilege,” which would allow it to oppose court-ordered disclosure of information deemed harmful to US national security.
The CIA declined to comment on the matter. The justice ministry, which experts say only rarely intervenes in civil trials, did not respond to a request from AFP.
Last year, Saad Aljabri claimed in another lawsuit that MBS sent agents to kill him in Canada, where he lives in exile. He also indicated that two of his children had been placed in detention in Saudi Arabia, denouncing pressure from Riyadh to push him to return to the country.
The feud took a new turn last March when state-owned Sakab Saudi Holding accused Saad Aljabri of embezzling $ 3.47 billion while working at the Interior Ministry under MBS. The company has asked the Massachusetts court to freeze its $ 29 million real estate assets in Boston.
The request came weeks after several state-owned companies filed a lawsuit against Saad Aljabri in Toronto over similar allegations. “Dr Saad would never expose secret counterterrorism projects that have saved thousands of lives, including those of Americans,” a source close to Saad Aljabri told AFP.
“Unfortunately, MBS’s pure vendetta against Dr Saad has cornered him in a position he is forced to put himself in to defend himself in court,” the source added. A Saudi official told AFP that the prosecution is taking place “between two private parties” and that the “Saudi government is not involved”. A US attorney representing MBS declined to comment on the litigation.
Saad Aljabri had access to sensitive information
While the US Department of Justice is considering steps to prevent any disclosure of state secrets in Massachusetts, how it might go about doing the same in Canadian court is unclear.
The source close to Saad Aljabri admitted that any disclosure could endanger “those who participated in (counterterror) operations, reveal sources and methods, and hinder (…) operations similar to the to come up”.
A source close to Saudi leaders reiterated allegations of corruption involving billions of dollars, while accusing Saad Aljabri of “poisoning US-Saudi relations.”
Several US officials who worked alongside Saad Aljabri have expressed their support for him, with some acknowledging that he has access to sensitive information. Saad Aljabri “has worked directly with at least the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the White House, the State Department and the Treasury Department,” said Philip Mudd, former head of the CIA, in an affidavit.
Source: 20Minutes – Une by www.20minutes.fr.
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