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Court Grants Motion to Seal Saudi Crown Prince's WhatsApp Number


From Judge K. Michael Moore today, in Oueiss v. Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; I blogged about the motion when it was filed last month, so I thought I'd follow up. As I noted in the original post, here's a brief Bloomberg: summary of the underlying case:

An Al Jazeera news anchor sued the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for allegedly hacking into her phone and stealing and doctoring images to disparage and intimidate her on social media.

Ghada Oueiss claims she was a target of the harassment because of her reporting on human rights abuses, according to her complaint filed on Wednesday [Dec. 9, 2020] in Miami federal court. Her suit names Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE as defendants, as well as other officials and agents of those nations….

And here's an excerpt from the motion to seal that Judge Moore granted (correctly so, I think):

Given the anticipated difficulties of effecting service on certain Defendants, … Plaintiff has filed the Ex Parte Motion, in which Plaintiff requests the Court's permission to serve MBS [Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud], MBZ, al Bannai, Al Qahtani, Al-Asaker, DarkMatter, MiSK, Zeinab, al Otaibi, Al Menaia, Al-Owerde (together, the "Foreign Defendants") via alternative means pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f)(3).

In support of the Ex Parte Motion, and for the Court's ease of reference, Plaintiff
intends to file Exhibit "K" to the Declaration of Daniel Rashbaum [D.E. 5-1], which is a chart containing the relevant addresses (physical, email, social media) at which Plaintiff proposes she be permitted to serve each of the Foreign Defendants.

Among the alternative means proposed in the Ex Parte Motion, Plaintiff requests the Court's permission to serve MBS via WhatsApp, and Plaintiff therefore intends to include MBS's WhatsApp number in Exhibit "K."

Given that MBS is the current Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, however, his WhatsApp telephone number is highly sensitive information that is not in the public domain….

Plaintiff requests that she be permitted to preserve the confidentiality of MBS's WhatsApp telephone number by filing Exhibit "K" under seal.