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US judge orders release of official documents on Khashoggi’s murder

August 8, 2019 at 12:43 pm

A protester holds a card reading ‘We didn’t forget Jamal Khashoggi’ during a protest in front of Saudi Consulate in New York, US York, on 1 June 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

An American judge has ordered federal agencies to disclose thousands of documents related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Turkey, the Associated Press reported.

On their part, representatives of the Departments of State and Defence told Judge Paul Engelmayer that producing 5,000 pages monthly makes it impossible to respond, in a timely manner, to other requests made to them under the Freedom of Information Act.

But Engelmayer insisted that they carry out his order, saying that the Saudi journalist’s case was of “considerable public importance”.

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The judge’s order came in response to requests by the two organisations – Open Society Justice Initiative and Open Society Foundations – for authorities to release the records of the Departments of State and Defence under the Freedom of Information Act.

The State Department has said it estimates there are 288,000 pages that are potentially subject to the FOIA request. The Department of Defense has said it may have 22,637 relevant pages.

The judge noted Khashoggi’s death was “front-page news” when the FOIA request was made in December, and the agencies did not respond to it until April.

“In the months since, Khashoggi’s disappearance, and the facts or allegations regarding his killing in Saudi custody, have continued to be a matter of intense interest among the public, legislators, other policymakers and journalists,” the judge wrote.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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