September 19, 2019

The Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

By: Ellie Shoup

In his last article, Jamal Khashoggi wrote, “Arab governments have been given free rein to
continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.”

On October 2, Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and government dissident walked
into the country’s embassy in Istanbul and disappeared.

In previous decades, 59-year-old Jamal Khashoggi worked as an advisor to the Saudi
government and was close to the royal family. He later fell out of favor when his journalism
turned critical of the Saudi regime. His column in the Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat was shut down
in June, 2016, and Khashoggi was barred from writing, media appearances, and conferences
about his criticism of President Trump. He went into self-imposed exile in the United States after
months of censorship.

From a safe distance, Khashoggi wrote a column for the Washington Post where his articles
continued to be critical of the Saudi government, especially of the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin
Salman. Khashoggi wrote in one of his first articles that he feared arrest from a Saudi
government crackdown on dissent, initiated by the Crown Prince. Khashoggi said that he now
faced arrest if he returned to his home country.

On September 28, Khashoggi traveled to Istanbul in order to obtain documents to marry his
Turkish fiancée. He was told to come back later and arranged an appointment for October 2.
Khashoggi returned and was last seen alive entering the consulate at 1:14 PM local time. He had
given his fiancée two mobile phones before his appointment and told her to call someone if he
did not come out. She waited ten hours to raise the alarm. By that time Khashoggi had already
been killed.

In the days after Khashoggi’s disappearance, the timeline of events slowly started to come
together. Upon entering the consulate, Khashoggi sat down in the office of the consul general.
By this time, the consulate was mostly empty. Employees had been given a surprise afternoon
off. Unbeknownst to Khashoggi, an elite fifteen-man hit squad waited for him in the adjacent
room. Mere moments later, Khashoggi was dragged away by two intelligence officers to a room
where he was tortured and killed. Evidence of the gruesome murder comes from a leaked
seven-minute audio recording by Turkish officials.

In the weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Saudi government presented a shifting
narrative of the murder. After weeks of denying involvement, Saudi Arabia stated that
Khashoggi died as the result of a “fistfight” inside the consulate. A source close to the Saudi
government told the Washington Post that Khashoggi had been strangled while resisting
deportation back to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis even went as far as deploying a Khashoggi stunt
double of similar size and build wearing his clothes to walk out of the consulate, according to a
Turkish official.

The order for this murder seems to have come from the highest reaches of the Saudi government.
The CIA concluded with “high confidence” that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman did in
fact order the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

As news of the murder was revealed, the international community broke out in condemnation of
the Crown Prince’s actions. Bipartisan outrage was voiced in the United States Congress, but this
outrage apparently did not reach the White House. President Trump continues to stand by Saudi
Arabia and said that the United States “intends to remain a steadfast partner” of the country. He
continues to proclaim the benefits of Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with the U.S.

Freedom of the press has been vigorously fought for and often denied to many people across
the globe. 2017 marked the most dangerous year yet for journalists. Forty-eight journalists were
killed in 2017 and a record number imprisoned—232 people— the highest number in almost
three decades. Even in the United States, journalists are targeted. Five people were killed in a
newsroom shooting in Maryland. These statistics and the shocking murder of Jamal Khashoggi
display the continuing and growing danger to freedom of the press from repressive political
regimes.

Haltiwanger, John. “In final Washington Post column, Jamal Khashoggi contemplated a ‘freedom he apparently gave his life for.'” Business Insider, 18 Oct. 2018, www.businessinsider.com/jamal-khashoggi-final-washington-post-op-ed-before-disappearing-published-2018-10. Accessed 13 Dec. 2018.

Rezaian, Jason. “2017 was the most dangerous year ever for journalists. 201might be even worse.” Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2018,www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/01/2017-was-the-most-dangerous-year-ever-for-journalists-2018-might-be-even-worse/?utm_term=.5874944091ee. Accessed 13 Dec. 2018.

“Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about Saudi journalist’s death.” BBC, 11 Dec. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45812399.