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Federal Judge Orders Release Of Khashoggi Records By U.S. Government

Photo caption: A federal judge says the government must prioritize the release of documents ...

Photo by Hasan Jamali AP

A federal judge says the government must prioritize the release of documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, seen above in 2014. The U.S. resident was slain in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey last year.

A judge in New York ordered federal agencies to produce thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist and U.S. resident who was slain in his country's consulate in Turkey last year.

U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer instructed the departments of State and Defense to produce some 5,000 pages monthly related to the killing of the Washington Post columnist. The judge said that the information about Khashoggi's disappearance and death is of "considerable public importance."

Representatives from the departments argued that complying with the order for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act would make it impossible to respond to other FOIA requests.

The original request for the government's documents was made by the Open Society Justice Initiative, the legal arm of the Open Society Foundations. The group filed suit in January seeking the immediate release of all government records related to the killing of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.

Khashoggi was last seen alive entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Critics of the Trump administration say the U.S. government has not acted forcefully enough against the government of Saudi Arabia, which is widely believed to have had a hand in the journalist's death.

Engelmayer said the Open Society's FOIA request had "obvious and unusual time sensitivity," as quoted by The Associated Press.

"This ruling is a clarion call for accountability at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything possible to hide the truth on who is responsible for Khashoggi['s] murder," said Amrit Singh, the Open Society's lead attorney for the case, in an emailed statement.

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