Federal Court Issues First Decision Against U.S. Government in Khashoggi Records Case
NEW YORK—A federal district court in New York issued its first judgement on Open Society Justice Initiative’s lawsuit seeking the immediate release of government records related to Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The court rejected the government’s attempt to slow down the disclosure of such records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The new ruling underscores the need for accountability in Khashoggi’s killing, coming just a week after the Senate failed to override Trump’s vetoes on resolutions to block Saudi arms deals. A June 2019 U.N. report found “credible evidence” warranting further investigation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud and other senior officials’ liability for Khashoggi’s killing.
After months of government delay in producing documents since the Open Society Justice Initiative’s initial FOIA request in December 2018, key takeaways from today’s ruling include:
- Judge Engelmayer, a federal district court judge in the Southern District of New York denied the government’s motion for reconsideration of his previous order requiring the Defense and State departments to process 5,000 pages per month of records related to the Khashoggi killing.
- Judge Engelmayer recognized the FOIA request concerns are a “matter of exceptional public importance and obvious and unusual time-sensitivity” and that “there is paramount public importance and urgency to OSJI’s request for records bearing on the information known to the federal agencies regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance”
Amrit Singh, lead lawyer for the Justice Initiative on the filing, said:
"This ruling is a clarion call for accountability at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything possible to hide the truth about who is responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder."
The Open Society Justice Initiative is represented before the court by Amrit Singh and James A. Goldston, together with Debevoise & Plimpton, a leading international law firm, with offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The Debevoise team is led by Catherine Amirfar and Matthew Forbes.
Documents so far released can be found under Open Society Foundations' account on DocumentCloud.org.
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