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US Appeals court says Morocco’s Jamal Benomar is immune from Elliot Broidy’s hacking suit

Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar. / DR
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A Manhattan-based federal appeals court ruled, Friday, that Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar is immune from a civil suit by major Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy. The latter accused the Moroccan diplomat last year of allegedly orchestrating a «Qatari hacking campaign», sending his trade secrets and personal information to US media.

According to the New York Law Journal, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that Elliott Broidy «had not established that the Moroccan diplomat met the commercial activity exception activity under the Vienna Convention, which generally protects diplomats from civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution».

Appealing against a former decision made by US District Judge Cathy Seibel, who dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, Broidy said «that defendants should ultimately be required to show that no exception to diplomatic immunity applies».

The thing that Broidy couldn’t prove. According to the court, «plaintiffs submitted no evidence whatsoever that Benomar was engaged in the activity or received the payments alleged».

«As plaintiffs failed to establish that the commercial activity exception to diplomatic immunity applied,we find that Benomar is entitled to diplomatic immunity under the terms of the Vienna Convention, and plaintiffs’ claims against him were properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction».

Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann

Indeed, last year, the US government officially reacted to the case, stating that the Moroccan UN diplomat is «entitled to diplomatic immunity».

During the same month, a spokesman for U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said that Morocco's accreditation of Jamal Benomar and his request to enjoy diplomatic immunity in the US have been reviewed.

In a statement, the Moroccan diplomat stressed that he holds a «valid diplomatic passport issued by the Kingdom of Morocco» and that he owns a «valid G-1 Diplomatic visa issued by the United States on 1 November 2017».

Commenting on the recent court decision, Broidy’s spokesman told the same newspaper that «[Broidy] will continue to seek justice—and hold those who committed these acts accountable—by vigorously pursuing these cases».

For the record, Benomar served as a special envoy for Yemen and a special adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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