Judge orders US government agencies to release files related to Khashoggi killing

A US judge has ordered federal government agencies to hand over thousands of documents related to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who died in Turkey last year.

District Judge Paul Engelmayer told US State and Defense departments to release 5,000 pages from their files on Khashoggi every month.

It follows Freedom of Information Act requests by the Justice Initiative, which is part of the Open Society Foundations advocacy group founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Judge Engelmayer said in his ruling on Tuesday that information surrounding Khashoggi’s death was of “considerable public importance”, according to Associated Press.

Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of King Salman’s regime who was a US resident, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October last year. His body has still not been found.

A report authored by UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions Agnes Callamard, published in June, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman should face investigation over the journalist’s death.

Callamard said there was “credible evidence, warranting further investigation” that Bin Salman and high-level Saudi officials may be liable for Khashoggi’s murder.

The Saudi regime has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing of Khashoggi, describing it as the result of a “rogue operation” of which the Crown Prince had no prior knowledge.

The Justice Initiative’s FOI request, filed in January, sought to lift the seal on US government documents related to the the killing.

It pushed for the release of records “including but not limited to the CIA’s findings on and/or assessment of the circumstances under which he was killed and/or the identities of those responsible”.

Following the ruling by District Judge Engelmayer earlier this week, US state representatives said they would not be able to respond to other FOI requests in a timely fashion while releasing 5,000 documents a month.

But the judge said in a written statement, seen by Associated Press, that there was a “paramount public importance and urgency” to releasing files under the FOIA request.

Picture: Middle East Monitor/Handout via Reuters

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