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Special Event

Zaid Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Elder Fayed

Aired August 31, 2000 - 9:39 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you to Washington, D.C. right now. Lawyers for Mohammed Al Fayed talking about filing that lawsuit today on behalf of Mohammed Al Fayed in conjunction with the death of Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana, and Henri Paul, three years ago today.

MARK ZAID, ATTORNEY FOR MOHAMMED AL FAYED: What we expect from here is essentially this complaint and summons will now be served on the government. It will most likely be received by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Tuesday, Wednesday, of next week. And they will have 30 days to respond. From then on, it will be pleadings after pleadings, and most likely, at some point, a court hearing, sometime in the next few months, that's at the discretion of the judge.

Anybody have a question?

QUESTION: How does this lawsuit differ from... (OFF-MIKE)?

ZAID: The prior legal attempts to obtain the documents actually was through a completely different mechanism. There were FOIA requests filed, never litigated. The two lawsuits that had been filed prior, one here in Washington and one in Maryland, were actually efforts to issue subpoenas under a statute that allows foreign tribunals to obtain information from the United States to further foreign proceedings. And because of the nuances of French law, which are in some ways very different from our system, of course,

Mr. Al Fayed was considered a party to the French proceeding or investigation. That permitted him by the statute's definition to file the subpoena in support of the French proceeding. The Maryland district court just outright denied the application to issue a subpoena against the National Security Agency. Judge Kennedy here at the district actually approved the issue and served the subpoenas against the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Ultimately the DIA was released from the action through negotiations and the CIA continued to fight it, and this past April Judge Kennedy quashed the subpoena. So there was never any information obtained through the prior, legal efforts. But it was through a completely different legal statute and framework. So, the lack of success in that action, actually will not impact on this case in any way.

QUESTION: Do you know exactly what you are looking for? do you have specific documents that you have asked for and requested for? or is this a sort of a fishing expedition where you want to get whatever they have?

ZAID: It's a little bit of -- I wouldn't say fishing expedition. It's sort of, we're going out into waters that know are populated with a certain fish, and we know what bait to use. So that's the fish we're going for. You know, if you want to catch striped bass, there is a certain way you catch striped bass or sharks. And we do know of specific documents. It's more along the lines of we know that there are categories of records, either about an event or an individual that exists.

For example, I know the FBI here in Washington and Los Angeles and their field offices possess documents pertaining to Richard Tomlinson, who is this renegade MI-6. A British CIA spy, agent, who has information or has given information about Princess Diana. And he had tried to come to the United States to try to talk about that in 1998 and the United States government blocked him from coming into the United States. Literally took him off the plane at JFK airport, detained him for several hours, and then put him back on the plane, when he was going to appear on a national television show to talk about what he believed he knew about Henri Paul being paid by the British government's security services. We know those documents exist. The FBI has told us that they exist. We know the NSA has documents regarding Princess Diana. Although they've indicated, you know, there's nothing pertaining to the tragedy itself.

I don't know, I haven't seen the documents, so we're not in any position to speculate, of course, what's in them. I guess the best that I can say is, having filed many of these cases before, against the intelligence agencies, I haven't seen anything yet in the way of denial information that I've deemed unusual, this is very typical, and as in most cases, I expect that at the end of the day, we will receive documents, and at the end of the day, some documents will be withheld. Now the question is which ones of those will fall in which category. And that will be up to the judge.

Anybody else?

Thank you, have a good holiday weekend.

KAGAN: We've been listening to lawyers for Mohammed Al Fayed as they file a lawsuit on behalf of that family following the death, three years ago of today, of Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana, and chauffeur Henri Paul in Paris. The family believes and that the U.S. government does have information that would give them more information on what happened the night of August 31, three years ago. The CIA says it has no knowledge of any plot to kill Princess Diana and Dodi. The family believing that this was all a plot to keep those two from marrying three years ago. That lawsuit being filed today in Washington, D.C.

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