The German branch of Reporters Without Borders is pushing for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be charged with a crime against humanity for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, under Germany's universal jurisdiction law.
The de facto Saudi leader is the main culprit in the journalist's killing, the press freedom activists said on Tuesday.
They have filed a criminal complaint with Germany's attorney general against Mohammed and four other high-ranking Saudi officials.
"RSF calls on the attorney general to open a formal investigation into these crimes," reads the complaint, which was seen by dpa.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a special commando from Riyadh. There is still no trace of his body.
Khashoggi lived in the United States and wrote columns for the Washington Post that often included criticism of the Saudi monarchy.
On Friday, a declassified US intelligence report stated that Mohammed had authorised the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia rejects the report as false.
The principle of universal jurisdiction was enshrined in German law in 2002.
It allows for grave crimes like genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to be tried in national courts if international courts are not an option.
The procedure has already been used, for example, by campaigners fighting for accountability in Syria, with the trial of two former intelligence officers for alleged state torture during that country's civil war.
Australian Associated Press