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Fiancée of Murdered Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Files Lawsuit Accusing Saudi Crown Prince of the Killing

— October 22, 2020

Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, says that Saudi officials in the United States coordinated with their counterparts abroad to lure Khashoggi to a consulate in Turkey, wherein he was dismembered alive and murdered.

The fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was murdered in Istanbul two years ago, has filed a lawsuit which accuses the crown prince of Saudi Arabia of ordering the killing.

According to BBC News, the lawsuit was filed by Hatice Cengiz, the Turkish national to whom Khashoggi was engaged. The complaint names Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and 20 other individuals as defendants.

Cengiz, who filed her suit in Washington, D.C., this past Tuesday, is seeking unspecified damages.

“The suit seeks to hold accountable those responsible for the brutal premeditated kidnapping, torture, assassination and dismemberment of a U.S. resident, Mr. Khashoggi,” said Keith M. Harper, an attorney for Cengiz. “This lawsuit is also a search for the entire truth.”

As the BBC notes, Khashoggi was a prominent and uniquely-positioned critic of the Saudi monarchy, having spent years working with and advising high-ranking members of the Saudi government and royal family. He was considered a threat to the kingdom due both to his criticism of Riyadh and close connections with political figures.

Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States for years before his murder and regularly wrote for The Washington Post.

However, Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. While Khashoggi had privately told friends he feared Saudi agents were planning to kidnap or assassinate him, he needed to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage with Cengiz.

The CIA has suggested that Khashoggi was likely killed on orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured. While Bin Salman has portrayed himself as a reformer striving to modernize Saudi Arabia, critics have said he has exhibited a harsh–often brutal–authoritarian streak. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user:U.S. Secretary of Defense. (Photographer: Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm). (CCA-BY-2.0).

A Turkish police investigation later uncovered evidence suggesting that Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate, after which his body was dissolved in acid or cremated in a large oven.

Turkish authorities later acquired an “audiotape” of Khashoggi’s killing, which was later played for U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel. The tape, says CNN, recorded the entirety of Khashoggi’s murder, during which Saudi agents appear to have begun dismembering the man while he was still alive.

The CIA concluded that Prince Mohammed was responsible for the murder of Khashoggi and most likely ordered the killing himself.

The Saudi government later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed but refused to accept any responsibility for the murder. Although the Saudi regime imprisoned eight people in connection with Khashoggi’s death, officials maintained that Khashoggi’s killing was not premeditated and certainly not ordered by the royal family.

Five of the eight accused were sentenced to death; their sentences were reduced after Khashoggi’s children said they “forgave” the men who killed their father.

Human rights groups later suggested that the Saudi government had simply arrested “low-level” functionaries in an attempt to create distance between the alleged killers and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Cengiz’s suit states that Khashoggi was murdered “pursuant to a directive of defendant Mohammed bin Salman.

“The objective of the murder was clear—to halt Mr Khashoggi’s advocacy in the United States […] for democratic reform in the Arab world,” the complaint claims.

Although Khashoggi was killed in Turkey, Cengiz claims that Saudi officials in the United States played a critical role in advancing the conspiracy to assassinate him. For instance, the lawsuit states that Khashoggi had initially sought to acquire the documents necessary for his marriage from a Saudi consulate in the United States. However, Saudi diplomats directed Khashoggi to the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, presumably citing Cengiz’s citizenship.

“This fatal misdirection took place in the United States and was part of the overall conspiracy intended to have a direct impact on Mr. Khashoggi’s political activities in the United States,” the lawsuit says.

In a separate statement, Cengiz said she believes that American courts may be one of the few arenas in which she can obtain some sort of justice for Khashoggi.

“Jamal believed anything was possible in America and I place my trust in the American civil justice system to obtain a measure of justice and accountability,” Cengiz said.


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