A US judge has dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, who accused the country of providing material support to al-Qaeda.
US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, New York, said Saudi Arabia had sovereign immunity from damage claims by families of nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, and from insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses.
“The allegations in the complaint alone do not provide this court with a basis to assert jurisdiction over defendants,” Daniels wrote.
The victims had sought to supplement their case with new allegations to avoid that result, including based on testimony they secured from Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al-Qaeda operative imprisoned for his role in the attacks, Reuters reported.
Daniels said even if he allowed the plaintiffs to assert those new claims, doing so would be “futile, however, because the additional allegations do not strip defendants of sovereign immunity”.
Saudi Arabia was dropped as a defendant before as judges said it was protected by sovereign immunity, but a federal appeals court in December 2013 reinstated it, saying a legal exception existed and the circumstances were extraordinary.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they would appeal. Sean Carter, one the lawyers, said he believed the ruling was also the consequence of the US government’s decision to keep classified evidence that could be favourable to their cause.
Relatives allege that Saudi agents provided the hijackers who carried out the attack with assistance including helping two of them with accommodation in the US.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who carried out the attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia.
The US government’s 9/11 Commission said in a 2003 report that there was no evidence Saudi Arabia had funded al-Qaeda.