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Obama to veto bill allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia, White House spokesman confirms

Published 13/09/2016

The legislation gives the families of 9/11 victims the right to sue in US courts for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The legislation gives the families of 9/11 victims the right to sue in US courts for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Barack Obama is set to veto a bill that would allow the survivors and victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia.

In his daily briefing to reporters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: "It's not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul US diplomats or US service members or even US companies into courts all around the world.

"I do anticipate the president would veto this legislation when it is presented to him."

On Friday, the House of Representatives approved a bill passed by the Senate in May which would allow the families of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001 to sue for damages.

Fifteen of the 19 men who hijacked four planes and flew them into targets in New York and Washington in 2001 were Saudi citizens, though Riyadh has always denied having any role in the attacks.

Families of the victims have filed various lawsuits directed at members of the Saudi royal family and charities associated with them, accusing them of allegedly supporting terrorism.

But these moves have been blocked by a 1976 law which gives foreign nations immunity from lawsuits in US courts.

The bill is designed to create an exception if foreign countries are found at least partially responsible for terror attacks which kill American citizens within the US.

Under the US Constitution, Mr Obama has 10 days to veto the bill or it automatically becomes law but congressional aides claim the measure has enough support, two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House, for them to override the Presidential veto for the first time since Mr Obama came to power in January 2009.

But Mr Obama could also use what is called a “pocket veto” - where he sits on a bill under the Congressional session ends - as lawmakers are due to leave Washington this week in order to prepare for the national elections on 8 November.

Independent News Service

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