RSF files criminal complaint against Saudi crown prince in Germany

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed a criminal case in Germany against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over “crimes against humanity committed against journalists”, including the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. A report submitted by RSF to the court details cases of 34 journalists who’ve been jailed in Saudi Arabia. Some senior Saudi officials are also named in the complaint. The complaint identifies four primary suspects in addition to bin Salman, including the crown prince’s close adviser Saud al-Qahtani and three other high-ranking Saudi officials. Riyadh denied the report’s findings, describing Khashoggi’s assassination as a “rogue operation” that did not involve the crown prince. RSF said it gathered evidence of “state policy to attack and silence journalists” and submitted it to the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany. 

The report, released by the director of national intelligence, may affect US policymakers’ ties with Saudi Arabia and, particularly, with the crown prince. Activists and rights groups were quick to call for US sanctions against bin Salman on Friday, when the report’s executive summary was released. The National Assembly party (NAAS), a group led by Saudi dissidents calling for democracy in Saudi Arabia, urged Washington to release the full report into Khashoggi’s murder. Last week, ahead of the report’s release, US President Joe Biden said he told King Salman that Saudi Arabia had to tackle human rights abuses as a precondition to dealing with the United States and made it clear to him that the rules are changing, and they are going to announce significant changes by Monday. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has confirmed that Washington would not take action against the crown prince himself.

In addition, Democratic Reps. Tom Malinowski (N.J.), James McGovern (Mass.) and Andy Kim (N.J.) introduced a bill on Monday calling for travel restrictions on the crown prince and the other officials. If passed, the legislation would prohibit travel to the U.S. for all the Saudi officials named in the intelligence report, though the president could waive the rule by publicly notifying Congress. It also asks the State Department to report if Saudi actions trigger an existing law that stops arms sales to countries that harass and intimidate people in the U.S. and force “regular reporting on Saudi government abuses each time the State Department is involved with U.S./Saudi joint military activities or arms transfers.”

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