Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Complaint served in US court against Saudi Crown Prince

Published on: 23 March, 2021


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [Reuters]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [Reuters]

On Friday the organisation Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) and Hatice Cengiz served Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) with a complaint filed in the District of Columbia Federal District Court on 20 October 2020.

DAWN is a US-based non-governmental organisation established by Jamal Khashoggi and Hatice Cengiz.

The complaint alleges that MBS and other Saudi officials ‘acting in a conspiracy and with premeditation, kidnapped, bound, drugged and tortured, and assassinated Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.’ The complaint further alleges that the murder caused the plaintiffs grievous injury and harm.

Those named as defendants in the case include various Saudi officials in addition to the Crown Prince, including Saud Al-Qahtani, his adviser; General Ahmed Al-Assiri, a senior intelligence official; 21 other named Saudi officials involved in the murder; and four unidentified conspirators.

The case seeks relief under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act for Khashoggi’s torture and extrajudicial killing. These Acts allows plaintiffs to bring cases in US courts for crimes committed outside the US.

DAWN is claiming civil damages for punitive and compensatory damages, as well as our legal costs.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Sarah Leah Whitson, the Executive Director of DAWN said: ‘This lawsuit is important not only to ensure meaningful judicial accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, but to deter other would-be murderers like Mohamed Bin Salman who will otherwise think there will be no real cost to killing people whose views they don’t like.’

Whitson added: ‘ The Alien Tort Statute is designed to allow aliens access to US courts when they are injured by crimes such as the extrajudicial execution of Khashoggi that have a strong connection to the U.S. Our co-plaintiff Hatice Cengiz, an alien, was directly injured by Khashoggi’s murder in a criminal conspiracy spearheaded by Mohamed Bin Salman.

‘We are also filing a claim under the TVPA, as well as state laws that prohibit tortious interference with contract, in this case Khashoggi’s contract to serve as the Executive Director of DAWN, wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress, to name a few of our claims.’