Fears mount over Saudi journalist missing since entering consulate

Riyadh urged to cooperate after no news on whereabouts of critic Jamal Khashoggi

The Washington Post has published a blank column in its Friday’s print edition and a blank page on its website to highlight the disappearance of one of its regular writers, Jamal Khashoggi, as the mystery deepens over the Saudi journalist’s whereabouts.

Khashoggi has been missing since he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul after midday on Tuesday. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, waited outside until midnight.

His visit was related to filing for a divorce, but he had reportedly expressed concerns about his safety beforehand. Turkish authorities believe he remains inside the consulate, while Saudi officials say he left the compound.

Khashoggi is one of the Arab world’s most prominent journalists and commentators. He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who has dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely believed to the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

We are holding a spot for Jamal Khashoggi in Friday’s newspaper https://t.co/gBro1ilFZC pic.twitter.com/eCLKqJYHwT

— Washington Post Opinions (@PostOpinions) October 5, 2018

The Washington Post’s editorial board has urged the prince to “do everything in his power to ensure that Mr Khashoggi is free and able to continue his work”.

In an editorial, it said: “Mr Khashoggi is not just any commentator. Over a long career, he has had close contact with Saudi royalty and knows more than most about how they think and function.

“His criticism, voiced over the past year, most surely rankles Mohammed bin Salman, who was elevated to crown prince last year and has carried out a wide-ranging campaign to silence dissent while trying to modernise the kingdom. Among those in his prisons for political speech are clerics, bloggers, journalists and activists. He imprisoned women who agitated for the right to drive, a right that was granted even as they were punished.”

Suspicions about Riyadh’s involvement in the disappearance are heightened by a number of similar incidents, including the surprise resignation of the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, last year while he was visiting Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were accused of abducting Hariri, who later suspended his resignation after leaving the kingdom.

While living in Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi was told to stop writing or posting on Twitter, where he has more than 1.6 million followers. He moved to the US more than a year ago, where he continued his commentary about his country both in print and on television.

His message struck a nuanced tone in the US, where he tried to acknowledge the reforms undertaken by Bin Salman while also highlighting the flaws.

Khashoggi previously had close links with the Saudi royal family, including having served as a media aide to Prince Turki al-Faisal, when the latter was director general of the Saudi intelligence agency.

He is also a former editor of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan and had worked with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of the first Saudi king who was detained last year as part of what the authorities said was an anti-corruption campaign.

Spearheaded by the crown prince, scores of wealthy businessmen – including other members of the royal family – were detained in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, before financial settlements with the monarchy led to their release.

In February, Khashoggi wrote in a column that restrictions on freedom of speech imposed by the crown prince had “sucked the oxygen from the once-limited but present public square. You can read, of course, but just think twice about sharing or liking whatever isn’t fully in line with the official government groupthink.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based NGO, urged the Saudi authorities to immediately disclose information about Khashoggi’s whereabouts. “Given the Saudi authorities’ pattern of quietly detaining critical journalists, Khashoggi’s failure to emerge from the Saudi consulate on the day he entered is a cause for alarm,” said the CPJ’s Sherif Mansour.


Saeed Kamali Dehghan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mohammed bin Salman calls Khashoggi murder a 'heinous crime'
Saudi prince breaks silence over killing of journalist at consulate in Turkey

Martin Chulov in Riyadh

25, Oct, 2018 @12:03 AM

Article image
Khashoggi fiancee calls for justice as 20 Saudi officials go on trial in Turkey
Hatice Cengiz hopes trial in absentia will reveal circumstances of journalist’s death and location of remains

Bethan McKernan and Beril Eski in Istanbul

03, Jul, 2020 @3:08 PM

Article image
Trump announces Jamal Khashoggi investigation but says he won't halt Saudi arms sales
Trump’s desire to protect weapons sales and family’s relationship with Saudi monarchy could prompt clash with Republicans

Julian Borger in Washington Martin Chulov in Istanbul Patrick Wintour in London

11, Oct, 2018 @7:34 PM

Article image
Donald Trump says 'rogue killers' may have murdered Khashoggi
US president’s remarks come as Turkish investigators finally get access to Saudi consulate

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor and Martin Chulov in Istanbul

16, Oct, 2018 @1:48 AM

Article image
Jamal Khashoggi’s sons appeal for father's body to be returned
Salah and Abdullah break silence as more details emerge of alleged Saudi cover-up

Bethan McKernan Turkey and Middle East correspondent

05, Nov, 2018 @12:25 PM

Article image
Jamal Khashoggi case: sponsors urged to pull out of Saudi conference
Economist joins New York Times in withdrawing from ‘Davos in the Desert’ event

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

11, Oct, 2018 @2:22 PM

Article image
Saudi isolation grows over Khashoggi disappearance
Business elites withdraw from summit as Turkish officials claim to have consulate tapes

Martin Chulov in Istanbul, Patrick Wintour and Bethan McKernan

13, Oct, 2018 @8:34 AM

Article image
Guardian told it was target of Saudi hacking unit after Khashoggi killing
Cybersecurity team ordered to access journalists’ email accounts, document suggests

Guardian staff reporter

19, Jun, 2019 @1:45 PM

Article image
Khashoggi case: CCTV disappears from Saudi consulate in Turkey
Security footage removed and Turkish staff told to go home on day missing journalist visits

Martin Chulov in Istanbul

10, Oct, 2018 @5:34 AM

Article image
Jamal Khashoggi was worried about consulate visit, says fiancee
Hatice Cengiz says she has been in ‘darkness I cannot express’ since journalist entered Saudi consulate

Bethan McKernan in Istanbul

26, Oct, 2018 @2:22 PM