Exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and Turkish officials allege he was murdered by Saudi officials.
Who was Jamal Khashoggi?
Jamal Khashoggi was a well-known Saudi journalist and U.S. resident who fled Saudi Arabia last year amidst fears for his safety and was a regular columnist for the Washington Post. Khashoggi had gone to school in the U.S. and had even been an advisor to the Saudi royal family at one point before his journalistic criticisms were no longer taken lightly. He was a well-established journalist, both for local outlets as well as international media.
He fled Saudi in 2017, later writing an article for the Washington Poston why he left, citing the “fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to speak their minds”. He spoke of the climate of fear, the several Saudi journalists who were in self-exile for fear of their safety, and his concerns for the future of the country as the self-proclaimed progressive prince seemingly was not going to deviate from his predecessor’s oppressive practices.
How valid are the murder allegations?
Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain marriage documents, and never returned, according to Turkish police. His fiance, Hatice Cengiz, was waiting outside and did not see him re-emerge. Turkish officials have claimed that Khashoggi was dismembered and murdered inside the consulate by men commissioned by the Saudi government. Saudi has vehemently denied these allegations, saying Khashoggi left the consulate through an alternative exit and hence why he’s not seen leaving the building on CCTV footage.
Turkish investigators claim that there is both audio and video proof that demonstrates that Khashoggi was killed, which according to officials, appears like very strong evidence. The audio recordings apparently reveal that Khashoggi was intimidated, tortured, and ultimately murdered. US officials said that the contents of these recordings had been relayed to them, but never clearly indicated whether they themselves had heard or seen them. The evidence was further corroborated when US officials revealed they knew of a Saudi plan to lure Khashoggiback to Saudi, likely to detain him.
In response to the allegations, several news outlets have barred their journalists from traveling to Saudi Arabia. The Future Investment Initiative Conference, which was scheduled for the 23rd of October in Riyadh, is facing several withdrawals from its participants, including the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, as well as a refusal from many media outlets to cover or support the event. Further, Sir Richard Branson, a very wealthy and famous British investor, has halted two tourism projects which would have invested in the Saudi Arabian economy.