Saudi regime pressured over missing journalist

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Saudi Arabia to immediately account for the whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Multiple news outlets reported Oct. 6 that Turkish authorities, who have been investigating his disappearance, believe that Khashoggi is dead and was killed inside the consulate. "CPJ is alarmed by media reports that Jamal Khashoggi may have been killed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul," said CPJ Deputy executive director Robert Mahoney. "The Saudi authorities must immediately give a full and credible accounting of what happened to Khashoggi inside its diplomatic mission. The country has stepped up its repression of critical journalists in the past year at home. We hope this has not now spread abroad."

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post and a former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan who writes critically about Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to complete paperwork and failed to emerge after the consulate officially closed. He had been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.

Saudi Arabia's repression of journalists has intensified since Crown Prince Salman rose to power as the apparent heir to the king last year. The CPJ recently documented a steadily increasing number of bloggers and journalists detained in unknown locations without charge since the start of what Saudi authorities term an anti-corruption campaign in September 2017. (CPJ, Oct. 6)

Cynical views on Jamal Khashoggi

As'ad AbuKhalil of the Angry Arab blog interviewed on the Real News, savages Jamal Khashoggi as a dupe of the Saudi regime who fought in the Afghan Mujahedeen, but happened to fall out with Prince Salman. (A New York Times profile suggests he did not actually fight in Afghanistan, but served there as a journalist, while sympathetic to the Mujahedeen. He was apparently on friendly terms then with Osama bin Laden, and was "disappointed" by his later "turn to terrorism.") Other media reports suggest Turkey is exploiting the affair in a conspiracy with Qatar against Saudi Arabia.

We will point out that Khashoggi's final column for the Washington Post is a call for "free expression" in Suadi Arabia and throughout the Arab world, looking back on the Arab Revolution of 2011 as a period "ripe with hope," and decrying the repression since then.

Turkish authoriities are now claiming evidence that Khashoggi was dismembered alive. A harrowing audio recording of his final agoned minutes has apparently been uncovered. (MEE)