Reporters without Borders (RSF) has accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and other senior officials of crimes against humanity in a criminal case it has brought before German courts, the group said.
The complaint reveals the widespread and systematic nature of the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, in particular the arbitrary detention of 34 journalists and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, RSF wrote on its website.
The media watchdog filed the complaint with the German Public Prosecutor General of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, "detailing a litany of crimes against humanity committed against journalists in Saudi Arabia."
"The complaint addresses 35 cases of journalists: slain Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and 34 journalists who have been jailed in Saudi Arabia, including 33 currently in detention — among them, blogger Raif Badawi," RSF said.
It stated that the 35 cases detailed in the complaint "reveal a system that threatens the life and liberty of any journalist in Saudi Arabia — in particular those who speak out publicly against the Saudi government."
The complaint identifies five primary suspects: Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman, his close adviser Saud Al-Qahtani, and three other high-ranking Saudi officials for their organisational or executive responsibility in Khashoggi's killing, as well as their involvement in developing a state policy to attack and silence journalists.
"Those responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes," declared RSF Secretary-General, Christophe Deloire.
Meanwhile, RSF Germany Director Christian Mihr said: "The official opening of a criminal investigation in Germany into the crimes against humanity in Saudi Arabia would be a world first."
RSF said that the German judiciary is the best-suited system to receive such a complaint, as German laws give them jurisdiction over core international crimes committed abroad, and German courts have already shown readiness and willingness to prosecute international criminals.
Moreover, it said, the German government has repeatedly expressed its great interest in achieving justice in the cases of Khashoggi and Badawi, and Germany has demonstrated commitment to the defence of press freedom and the protection of journalists around the world.