US federal judge Paul Engelmayer on Tuesday ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to surrender a report on the killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as a video of his assassination, after rejecting the decision to keep this information confidential, reported Bloomberg.
Embarrassment to Saudi Arabia
The Open Society Foundations stated that the US judge's order for the intelligence services to acknowledge the possession of evidence represents the first step to publishing a recording related to Khashoggi's murder and the US intelligence report on the case, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday.
The Open Society Justice Initiative has filed a complaint at a civilian court against the CIA and other US intelligence agencies, as the aforementioned institutions have refused to respond to the foundation's request, submitted under the Freedom of Information of Act.
According to the complaint, the initiative requested access to all documents related to Khashoggi's assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, 2018. However, the CIA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence rejected the request, citing considerations relating to national security.
Judge Engelmayer deemed the response to the request insufficient, since the Trump administration had publicly spoken about this recording, and ordered the intelligence services to officially acknowledge the existence of the assassination documents and present their legal motives for keeping it confidential.
Engelmayer's decision potentially causes embarrassment for Saudi Arabia, especially if the US intelligence service complies with the judge's decision, conceivably leading to the publication of the recording of the horrific murder.
The US has the recording
Judge Engelmayer mentioned statements by US President Trump at the end of 2018, in which he confirmed that the US "has the tape," while indicating that following the investigation, the CIA "did not conclude" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was responsible for the assassination.
According to the French news agency, the judge did not order the disclosure of these documents that may present conclusive evidence of the infamous assassination of the Saudi journalist. However, attorney of the Open Society Justice Initiative Amrit Singh asserted that the decision is "a vital step towards ending impunity in this case" from which the Saudi crown prince and other officials benefit.
Singh added that as soon as the intelligence services officially acknowledge the existence of these documents and present their legal motives for not disclosing them, the foundation will be able to "debunk these arguments" in the hope of fulfilling its demands.