We condemn the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The murder, which is a violation of free speech, has attracted global outrage.
In its admission that the journalist was murdered, the Saudi government said the 59-year-old journalist got into a fisticuff at its Istanbul consulate resulting to his death. The Turkish authorities, quoting intelligence sources, however, revealed that Khashoggi was “tortured, murdered and dismembered.”
The shock and the horror that followed Khashoggi’s assassination were worldwide. Since October 2 when he went into the consulate to obtain a marriage licence to remarry, the world has been horrified by the news of his murder, the details of his torture, and the high level involvement of the Saudi government.
As in such high government conspiracies, especially in the murder of a man of Khashoggi’s stature, the Saudi government first flatly denied the crime. Khashoggi visited the consulate, the Saudis said, but he left almost immediately. Well, said the Turks, ‘we see his video going in, could you show us his video going out?’ The Turks did not make it any easy for the Saudis as they began leaking information they had gathered, which pointed directly to the kingdom, forcing the kingdom to own up after stone walling for two weeks.
Khashoggi might have had a premonition of his fate. He reportedly begged his fiancée, who had accompanied him, to wait outside the consulate. She should call local authorities should she suspect anything. After waiting for four hours and suspected that all was not well, she dialed the Turks who swiftly swung into action. By then it was too late for Jamal Khashoggi. They raced to the airport and searched one of the chartered jets that brought the assailants. They found nothing. They wanted but could not enter the consulate.
We commend the government of Turkey for standing up for humanity, for seeking justice and accountability for this heinous crime. When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on Tuesday at a party meeting, he made it clear that Turkey wanted a clear accountability.
He respectfully appealed to King Salman, the Saudi king, reminding him of his (king’s) spiritual duties as the “Custodian of the Holy Sites of Islam,” reminding him also of the demands of the Islamic sharia which makes no exception to ensure that justice is done.
President Erdogan offered the world a timeline of Khashoggi’s murder. Khashoggi’s first visit to the consulate on the September 28 to seek a marriage licence seemed to have pushed a premeditated plan into immediate flurry of actions. On October 1, a chartered jet brought into Istanbul a team of three officials who even went on a reconnaissance of two forests around Istanbul. A second team of nine more arrived, this time including military generals and forensic experts in two chartered jets. By the October 2 appointment date for Khashoggi, the murder team was 15, including the Jamal Khashoggi lookalike, who wore the victim’s clothes after the grisly deed and left the consulate.
The wreckage already left by Crown Prince Salman within 17 months of his stewardship in the Kingdom is enough to trouble king Salman. He began an avoidable war in Yemen; he got Qatar blockaded over nothing; there is the proxy war with Iran; there is the ill-tempered fight he started with Canada, one of the world’s most respected nations. Because Canada criticised the Saudi human rights record, the Crown Prince ended all relations, diplomatic and commercial, including student exchange programmes. It was unprecedented in modern history.
King Salman should do his kingdom a favour and reassign this young man. Saudi Arabia has a reputation as a patronage state. The Crown Prince has apparently turned it into a police state. Given the number of times the Saudis have changed their story on this tragedy, we think the 18 suspects should be turned over to the Turkish chief prosecutor. We believe that Turkey has the image of an honest broker in this matter.