What Happened to Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

The Middle East is abuzz over the mystery of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who walked into his country’s embassy in Istanbul last Tuesday on routine business and vanished.

A growing number of people fear that Khashoggi was killed for his work, which was sometimes critical of the Saudi royal family. And some say his disappearance is a chilling illustration of the limits of the free press in Saudi Arabia — a country that has been trying to rehabilitate its image to appear more forward-looking and progressive while continuing to engage in repressive acts.

Before delving into the disappearance, it may help to know a little about Khashoggi, a veteran journalist with years of experience and international publication credits. His work includes thoughtful and outspoken criticism of the Saudi Arabian government, and he became so unpopular with the authorities that he ultimately fled Saudi Arabia in what he described as “self-exile.”

Even so, Khashoggi continued to discuss acts of oppression — like rounding up and silencing opponents of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (pictured above).

“I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison,” he wrote in the Washington Post just a year ago. The sense of alienation and isolation may have been especially deep for Khashoggi, since he was once friendly with the royal family.

But he remained a Saudi Arabian citizen, and when he fell in love with a Turkish woman and decided to marry her, Khashoggi was forced to visit the embassy to deal with paperwork. His fiancee waited for him outside, maintaining that he never emerged. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian authorities insist that Khashoggi left. The Turkish government claims there are no indicators that he exited the building.

So where is Khashoggi, and is he still alive? Turkish officials think that they know the answer to this question: They say he was killed inside the consulate, and that his body was moved to another location. Now, they’re preparing to search the building for evidence of the crime.

If Khashoggi’s still alive, he may be en route to Saudi Arabia anyway, for a trial that could prove unjust — and Saudi Arabia dispenses the death penalty quite freely.

This incident takes place in the context of a long history of press censorship in Saudi Arabia. It is not easy to be a journalist in the country even at the best of times. And especially when someone is critical of the government, citizens fear reprisal — even when they’re not living in Saudi Arabia.

The fact that this matter came to a head in Turkey is somewhat ironic; while Turkey presents itself as a crusader for truth in this case, the country is also highly restrictive for members of the press. And given that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are experiencing growing political tensions, Khashoggi’s apparent disappearance could become a political tool for two nations looking for an excuse to escalate conflict.

The Washington Postwhere Khashoggi had a regular column, has been outspoken in calling for answers and justice in this case — noting that Turkey and Saudi Arabia aren’t the only nations who should be called to account here.

The United States, the paper claims, also has a stake in this case, given the relationship between Donald Trump – no friend of the press — and the Saudi Arabian royal family. Some members of Congress, like Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), agree, and a growing list of elected officials are demanding action.

Meanwhile, groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists are also calling for an investigation and accountability. And on October 4, the Washington Post printed what advocates hope wasn’t Khashoggi’s last column. It was blank.

Photo credit: Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/Department of Defense

38 comments

Joan E
Joan E2 hours ago

This morning Trump is saying the exact same thing about the murderous Saudi Prince as he said previously about Putin . "He said he didn't do it." That's good enough for Trump. As far as Trump is concerned, the case is closed. So what if Trump was colluding with Putin so Putin's hackers could make it look like Trump actually won the US election? So what if Jared and Trump were colluding with an Arab murdering prince so they could enrich themselves and cause more turmoil with an ill-considered arms deal? It is always about the money with Trump, never about doing the right thing.

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Marija M
Marija M5 hours ago

It is a secret...really? Terrible...

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JinnySITEISSUES L
JinnySITEISSUES L21 hours ago

Saudi Arabia's crown prince is another dangerous, self-serving and power hungry leader. It's all about him. Do your homework.....check out his history. Petition signed and thank you for sharing.

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Dave f
Dave fyesterday

Disturbing if its true .

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Chad A
Chad Andersonyesterday

Awful.

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Sue H
Sue Hyesterday

Why aren't we better than this??

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Brian F
Brian F1 days ago

This crook Trump and the US government sells weapons to Saudi Arabia so they can murder civilians in Yemen, and gives Israel 8 million dollars a day so they can continue to murder Palestinians, so nothing will be done about this murder. Saudi Arabia and Israel own the US government.

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Joan E
Joan E2 days ago

What happened to this Middle-Eastern journalist who worked at the Washington Post and who was forced by the Saudis to go to a certain building to get his marriage license? He knew the dictator who made him go in person to that building could be setting a trap for him, so he wore an iPhone watch so he could transmit anything that happened. His murder was recorded. But Trump, who never met a murderous foreign dictator he didn't have the hots for, doesn't care a bit about the murder of a journalist. He's telling his dullard that no one knows what happened yet, because he has no empathy and didn't think people would care so much about chopping up a journalist who is a permanent resident of the US but not a citizen. People DO care But Trump only cares that he's about to make a bug arms deal with the Saudis. He doesn't care what they do as long as there is cash in it for him.

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hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD2 days ago

TYFS

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Camilla V
Camilla Vaga2 days ago

thx

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