Slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now, Inc. (DAWN) filed a lawsuit Tuesday in a US district court against Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and a couple dozen others. The complaint alleges that key elements of the conspiracy to murder Khashoggi took place at the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC in 2018, where embassy officials informed Khashoggi that he needed to travel to Istanbul to obtain documents necessary to civilly register his marriage to Hatice Cengiz. This served to lure Khashoggi to Istanbul, where the defendants orchestrated his killing in order to silence DAWN, a human rights organization founded by Khashoggi, and to protect the pecuniary and political interests of MBS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
The complaint details several attempts by the defendants to lure Khasshoggi back to the Kingdom and Khasshoggi’s well-founded fear that he would be arrested or killed if he returned. The US Central Intelligence Agency found that MBS said if he could not lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia on his own, “[they] could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements.” Khashoggi married Cengiz in an Islamic ceremony on September 16, 2018. In order to civilly register the marriage, he would need to obtain a certificate of marriage eligibility from the Kingdom, a form typically available at the Saudi Embassy in the US. However, Khashoggi was informed that he would need to acquire the form in Istanbul. He arrived at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 around 1:15pm, where he was tortured and murdered while his wife waited outside. His body has yet to be recovered.
The lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia pursuant to the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 and the Alien Tort Statute. The seven claims for relief include extrajudicial killing, tortious interference of DAWN’s valid employment contract, wrongful death, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.