Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was sued Tuesday in U.S. federal court on behalf of the fiancee of slain dissident Jamal Khashoggi and the nonprofit group he led before his death in 2018.
Lawyers representing Hatice Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now, Inc., or DREAM, filed the lawsuit in D.C., against the crown prince and over 20 of his alleged co-conspirators.
Khashoggi, a Saudi-born columnist for The Washington Post who lived in Virginia, was last seen over two years ago entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul while his fiancee waited outside.
Senators briefed by the CIA director have said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate on the crown prince’s order, and a United Nations report also found Saudi Arabia responsible.
The lawsuit asserts a fair trial in Saudi Arab is impossible and argues the crown prince and two dozen others accused of being complicit in the killing should accordingly face charges in the U.S.
“This objectives of this lawsuit are twofold — accountability for the perpetrators of the heinous torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based democracy advocate and journalist, as well as to determine through the judicial processes the whole truth,” said Keith M. Harper, a former U.S. ambassador representing the plaintiffs in the case as a partner for law firm Jenner & Block.
Khashoggi, 59, was “kidnapped, bound, drugged, tortured and assassinated” in the consulate and then dismembered while his fiancee waited outside for 12 hours, reads part of the 61-page complaint.
“This brutal and brazen crime was the culmination of weeks of planning and conspiratorial actions taken collectively by Defendants and their coconspirators,” reads another part of the lawsuit.
The crown prince has denied ordering Khashoggi murdered but has said he was slain by individuals working for the Saudi government and takes “full responsibility” as the nation’s leader.
Public court records did not list any lawyers for the defendants, and a message requesting comment from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not immediately returned.