Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Monday that they have filed a criminal complaint in Germany accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other top officials of committing crimes against humanity. The allegations arise from the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the detention of 34 other journalists in Saudi Arabia.
The Paris-based media advocacy group filed the 500-page complaint in federal court in Karlsruhe, Germany. The complaint asks that the German Public Prosecutor open a formal investigation into “the widespread and systematic nature of the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia.” According to RSF, the complaint details 35 cases that “reveal a system that threatens the life and liberty of any journalist in Saudi Arabia—in particular those who speak out publicly against the Saudi government.”
The press freedom group alleges that the crown prince and four other Saudi officials have “organizational or executive responsibility” for the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi and colluded in “developing a state policy to attack and silence journalists.” The filing follows the US release of a declassified intelligence report last week that concluded that the crown prince approved the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi. The Saudi government rejected the US intelligence assessment, and Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire stated, “[t]hose responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes.” The media group filed the lawsuit in Germany because its courts have standing to investigate international crimes and has “already shown readiness and willingness to prosecute international criminals.”