Open Society Justice Initiative Sues U.S. Government for Khashoggi Records
NEW YORK—The Open Society Justice Initiative has filed a lawsuit today under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act seeking the immediate release of government records relating to the killing of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The suit seeks the release of all 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.”
The filing of the lawsuit before a federal court in the Southern District of New York follows the government’s failure to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests filed in early December by the Justice Initiative, targeting the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The Justice Initiative argues that disclosure of the records is essential “for a public evaluation of the federal government’s efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.” It also asserts that “the American public has a right to know what its government is doing to uphold human rights and the rule of law” in the context of the murder.
James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, underscored that the release of the records is vital not only to enable robust discussion of a matter of intense public interest in the United States, but also to contribute to accountability for a horrific crime:
“After more than three months, the circumstances surrounding the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi remain unclear. Only by making available what the federal government knows can prosecutors and judges—not just in the U.S., but around the world where jurisdiction may lie—be able to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Amrit Singh, lead lawyer for the Justice Initiative on the filing, said:
“The full disclosure of these records is a vital step towards ending impunity for the perpetrators, no matter how powerful they might be, and allowing the public to evaluate for itself how the U.S. government is responding to this flagrant disregard for the rule of law.”
The Open Society Justice Initiative is represented before the court by Amrit Singh and James A. Goldston, together with co-counsel David Sobel, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP partner Catherine Amirfar, associate Ashika Singh, and law clerk Sebastian Dutz.
The Justice Initiative is a public interest law center that has operated as part of the Open Society Foundations since 2003. It has participated in more than 100 cases in national and international courts around the world, including on behalf of the victims of police torture and killings in custody. It also won judgments against three European nations—Poland, Romania, and Macedonia—over their participation in the program of secret rendition, imprisonment, and torture run by the CIA after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a leading international law firm, with offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
David Sobel is a Washington, D.C., lawyer specializing in freedom of information and privacy litigation.
Update, July 25, 2019: The FOIA case is before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Documents so far released can be found under Open Society Foundations' account on DocumentCloud.org.
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