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Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee and the human rights group he founded have filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, DC accusing the Saudi crown prince of ordering the death of the journalist. The Washington Post reports that Hatice Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn) allege in the suit that Mr Khashoggi was tortured, murdered, and dismembered “pursuant to a directive of defendant Mohammed bin Salman”.
Two dozen co-defendants are named alongside the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
It is claimed they saw Mr Khashoggi’s work in the US as “an existential threat to their pecuniary and other interests and, accordingly, conspired to commit the heinous acts that are the subject of this suit”.
The purpose of the suit is to have a US court hold the crown prince liable for the murder of Mr Khashoggi and to obtain documents in both countries that reveal the truth, attorneys Keith Harper and Faisal Gill told reporters.
The Saudi crown prince has previously denied any involvement in the killing of Mr Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The Washington Post writer had been highly critical of the Saudi regime.
Officials have claimed that it was a tragic accident on the part of rogue agents who were supposed to persuade the exiled dissident and pro-democracy activist to return to Saudi Arabia.
However, the CIA concluded that the crown prince had ordering the killing.
Mr Khashoggi was killed on 2 October 2018 while visiting the consulate to obtain documents to permit him to marry Ms Cengiz.
There was widespread anger and international condemnation when the Turkish government revealed that he had been killed and dismembered.
Ms Cengiz and Dawn are represented by law firm Jenner & Block.
Attorneys argue that the crown prince is neither head of state nor the head of government and therefore not immune from prosecution in civil suits in the US.
The lawsuit must first establish that Mr Khashoggi’s work in the US is part of the wider conspiracy that led to his death in order to establish that a US judge has jurisdiction.
Saudi Arabia sentenced eight people to prison terms of between seven and 20 years for the killing of the journalist after a trial that human rights groups say lacked transparency.
Donald Tump boasted to journalist Bob Woodward that he protected the Saudi crown prince from US scrutiny after the murder of Mr Khashoggi.
“I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop,” he told Mr Woodward in early 2020.