Sumayyah Daisy Lane, BA History
Five Saudi officials are currently facing the death penalty for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, was murdered during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd, 2018.
Formerly loyal to Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Khashoggi fell out of favour and moved to the US last year. There, he worked as a Washington Post columnist and was often critical of the Saudi government.
On October 2nd, Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate to obtain documents necessary to prove the divorce from his ex-wife in order to marry Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz. The last time Khashoggi was spotted alive was whilst entering the Consulate building at 13:14 Turkish local time.
Waiting for him outside the building for over 10 hours, Cengiz says she did not witness her fiancé re-emerge. She came back the next morning when he had still not returned.
Saudi officials strongly denied all responsibility for Khashoggi’s death for three weeks, their story constantly changing. Without substantial evidence, they claimed he left the Consulate on the day of his death.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz claimed media reports of Saudi officials ordering the murder were “lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom.”
On October 19th, Saudi officials admitted that Khashoggi was killed in an altercation inside the Consulate. At first, they claimed it occurred during a fist fight. However, it later emerged that the murder was pre-planned. A Saudi prosecutor confirmed agents waited for Khashoggi who was then drugged, beheaded and dismembered. Within two hours, the journalist’s body was smuggled out of the Consulate in luggage.
The most consistent part of Saudi’s story remains that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not know about or order Khashoggi’s murder.
The CIA has concluded that the Crown Prince ordered the killing of the dissident journalist. This definitive assessment from the agency places more pressure on US President Trump who has been reluctant to reject the kingdom and its crime despite the huge global outcry and condemnation from the international community calling for justice for Khashoggi. Trump continues to define the Saudi Kingdom as a “steadfast partner” of the US.
“The CIA has concluded that the Crown Prince ordered the killing of the dissident journalist.”
Turkey’s Foreign Minister has accused Trump of “turning a blind eye” to the crime committed by the Saudi government. President Erdogan’s deputy chairman dismissed Trump’s unwavering support of the Saudi regime as “comic.”
Jamal Khashoggi’s death sheds light on the lack of freedom of the press in Saudi Arabia, with many journalists facing threats, harassment, assault, or even death for speaking out against the government. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued an “incident report” on Saudi Arabia’s press freedom amid news of Khashoggi. In a statement, RSF said, “Despite a facade of modernism, the regime stops at nothing to silence critical journalists.” In the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, Saudi ranked 169th out of 180 countries with a predicted fall for next year.
Members of the Saudi royal family are reported to have discussed blocking the ascension of Mohammed Bin Salman to the throne following this tragedy.
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