The Knight First Amendment Institute, based out of Columbia University, has filed a lawsuit against US intelligence services in order to learn whether the agencies took measures to inform Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi of the looming danger threatening him before his death.
According to US Intelligence Community Directive 191, also known as Duty to Warn, agencies that have information that a certain individual is in danger of death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping must warn said individual.
According to the lawsuit, US agencies were aware of the imminent threat to Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
"US intelligence agencies apparently intercepted communications in which Saudi officials discussed a plan to capture Khashoggi," the lawsuit says.
It is unclear whether US intelligence agencies were obliged to warn Khashoggi. According to some former intelligence officials cited by the Washington Post, there is a very good chance that doing so was deemed unnecessary.
The death of the journalist has caused a political split within the United States. The CIA has come to conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself authorized the assassination. US President Donald Trump remains sceptical as to whether the crown prince was aware of the planned assassination and has called for a calm, moderate approach.
This has been weaponized by Trump's critics within the US, who have called on the president to punish Saudi Arabia's government. Specifically, opponents have called for the cancellation of Trump's multi-billion-dollar arms deals with Riyadh concluded in 2017, which the president considers personal achievements.