A US judge directed Saudi Arabia's regime to make current and former officials, including a former ambassador to the United States, available 24/7 for questioning in litigation claiming they assisted in the September 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers for victims said on Friday.

Iran Press/America: Saudi Arabia has long denied involvement in the attacks. Nearly 3,000 people were killed as hijacked airplanes crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, and a field in western Pennsylvania.

The Saudi regime's media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment after business hours. A Washington, DC-based lawyer for the country declined a request for comment by Reuters news agency.

US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn's decision was made public on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, Aljazeera reported.

It followed another judge's March 2018 rejection of Saudi Arabia's bid to dismiss the litigation, where families of those killed, tens of thousands of people who suffered injuries, businesses, and insurers are seeking billions of dollars in damages.

While rejecting some of the plaintiffs' requests for depositions, Netburn said those who could be questioned included Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the US from 1983 to 2005, and a Saudi royal family member.

She said Saudi Arabia "persuasively" argued that documents did not suggest the prince oversaw two officials’ work the plaintiffs linked to the attacks.

But the judge said the plaintiffs' materials indicated he "likely has first-hand knowledge" of the role one official "was assigned by the Kingdom and the diplomatic cover provided to the propagators" working in the US.

It was not immediately clear how Saudi Arabia might arrange for or compel testimony by its citizens, including those no longer in the government.

James Kreindler, a lawyer for the victims, called the decision a "major development" because Saudi Arabia had produced little documentation concerning its government officials working in the US before the attacks.


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