News

March 4, 2021

Turkish court refuses to consider US intelligence report in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder trial

On 4 March, Istanbul’s Çağlayan Court continued its consideration of slain Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder case. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) monitored the hearing, in which the court denied the request by Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz to accept into these proceedings the recently published declassified US intelligence report naming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as responsible for approving Khashoggi’s murder.

This was the third hearing in Khashoggi’s murder case since the trial opened on 3 July 2020. Witness testimony continued against the 26 defendants - all Saudi nationals who are represented by lawyers appointed by the Istanbul Bar Association - as the court heard from two Turkish employees of the Consulate of Saudi Arabia where Khashoggi was murdered on 2 October 2018. 


The court rejected the request by Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz to accept into evidence in these proceedings the recently published declassified US intelligence report, which held Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for approving Khashoggi’s murder. The judge stated that the report “would bring nothing to the trial,” and told Cengiz she would have to take the request directly to Istanbul’s Prosecutor General.


“While RSF views these ongoing proceedings in Jamal Khashoggi's case as a positive step by the Turkish judiciary, it is a highly unusual situation for our most immediate hope for justice to lie with a Turkish court. This speaks to the truly abysmal situation within Saudi Arabia, where the trial that was held in this case represented a complete mockery of justice,” said RSF’s Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, who has monitored all three hearings on RSF’s behalf.


“We were concerned that the judge rejected the request to bring the declassified US intelligence report into evidence, but we continue to hope that these proceedings in the Turkish courts will uncover further evidence, and help to establish truth and accountability for this horrific crime,” Önderoğlu added.


The hearing comes just two days after RSF announced it has filed a criminal case in Germany against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and four other high ranking Saudi officials for crimes against humanity committed in their widespread and systematic persecution of journalists - including Jamal Khashoggi, and 34 other journalists who have been arbitrarily detained.


The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 8 July. RSF is the only NGO that has been consistently monitoring these proceedings and will continue to do so.


Saudi Arabia is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, and Turkey is ranked 154th.