Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz says Saudi officials in the United States coordinated with their counterparts abroad to lure Khashoggi to a consulate in Turkey, where he was dismembered alive and murdered.
The fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was murdered two years ago in Istanbul, has filed a lawsuit accusing the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia of ordering the killing.
According to BBC News, the lawsuit was brought by Hatice Cengiz, the Turkish national to whom Khashoggi was engaged to be. In the complaint, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and 20 other people are named as defendants.
Cengiz, who filed her lawsuit in Washington, DC, last Tuesday, is seeking unspecified damages.
"The lawsuit seeks to bring those responsible for the brutal willful kidnapping, torture, murder and dismemberment of a US-based Khashoggi to justice," said Keith M. Harper, a Cengiz attorney. "This lawsuit is also a search for the whole truth."
As the BBC notes, Khashoggi was a prominent and uniquely positioned critic of the Saudi monarchy, having worked with and advised senior members of the Saudi government and royal family for years. He was seen as a threat to the kingdom both because of his criticism of Riyadh and because of his close ties to political figures.
Khashoggi lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for years before his murder and wrote regularly 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 that he feared Saudi agents would kidnap or murder him, he had to gather documents for his upcoming marriage with Cengiz.
The CIA has suggested that Khashoggi was likely killed on the orders of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (see picture). While bin Salman has portrayed himself as a reformer striving to modernize Saudi Arabia, critics have said he has shown a tough – often brutal – authoritarian trail. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr / User: USA. Defense Minister. (Photographer: Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm). (CCA-BY-2.0).
A Turkish police investigation later found evidence that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate. His body was then dissolved in acid or cremated in a large furnace.
The Turkish authorities later acquired a "tape" of Khashoggi's murder, which was later played for Gina Haspel, director of the US secret service. According to CNN, the tape recorded the entire murder of Khashoggi, in which Saudi agents apparently dismembered the man while he was still alive.
The CIA concluded that Prince Mohammed was responsible for Khashoggi's murder and most likely ordered the killing himself.
The Saudi government later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed but declined to accept responsibility for the murder. Although the Saudi regime detained eight people in connection with Khashoggi's death, officials claimed that Khashoggi's murder was not premeditated and was certainly not ordered by the royal family.
Five of the eight defendants were sentenced to death; Their sentences were reduced after Khashoggi's children said they had "forgiven" the men who killed their father.
Human rights groups later suggested that the Saudi government had only arrested "low-ranking" officials to create distance between the alleged murderers and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Cengiz's lawsuit alleges that Khashoggi was murdered "according to an order from the defendant Mohammed bin Salman".
"The aim of the murder was clear: to stop Khashoggi's advocacy of democratic reforms in the Arab world in the United States (…)," the complaint said.
Although Khashoggi was killed in Turkey, Cengiz claims that Saudi officials in the United States played a crucial role in promoting the conspiracy to murder. For example, the lawsuit states that Khashoggi first tried to obtain the documents required for his marriage from a Saudi consulate in the United States. However, Saudi diplomats referred Khashoggi to the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, presumably citing Cengiz's citizenship.
"This fatal misdirection took place in the US and was part of the general conspiracy that was supposed to have a direct impact on Mr Khashoggi's political activities in the US," the lawsuit said.
In a separate statement, Cengiz said she believes American courts could be one of the few arenas where she can get some kind of justice for Khashoggi.
"Jamal believed that anything was possible in America, and I trust the American civil justice system to achieve a level of justice and accountability," said Cengiz.
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