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Jamal Khashoggi's Fiancee And His Pro-Democracy Group Sue Saudi Crown Prince

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A civil lawsuit was filed today over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It alleges that Saudi Arabia's crown prince and two dozen other Saudi nationals kidnapped, drugged and killed Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two years ago this month. This is the first civil lawsuit in the U.S. regarding Khashoggi's killing. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The complaint, filed in a U.S. district court in Washington, alleges that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing because he considered Jamal Khashoggi's work to promote democracy in the Middle East an existential threat. It was filed by DAWN, the democracy organization that Khashoggi started, and by Hatice Cengiz, his fiancee. The suit names her as Khashoggi's widow. It says they were finalizing their civil marriage when he was killed. Cengiz spoke by videoconference.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HATICE CENGIZ: Jamal's voice was too powerful, too threatening. And so they decided they must silence him permanently.

NORTHAM: Attorney Keith Harper told the videoconference the lawsuit has two goals - accountability for Khashoggi's murder and obtaining more information, documents and recordings from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia through discovery. Harper says U.S. courts have jurisdiction for the lawsuit because the trap for Khashoggi was set by officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEITH HARPER: He was informed repeatedly that he could not obtain the certificate of marriage eligibility he needed to confirm his civil marriage to Ms. Cengiz in the U.S. and would have to travel to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. And in Istanbul, as we all know, the defendants abducted and murdered him.

NORTHAM: The Saudi Embassy did not respond to requests for comment by airtime. The kingdom did convict eight nationals for Khashoggi's murder in a closed trial.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF COCONUT RECORDS AND WOODY JACKSON'S "FRANK'S SONG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.