New Developments in the Case of the Missing Journalist
A sunset view of Istanbul, Turkey.
View of Istanbul with Suleymaniye Mosque on the hill during sunset, Turkey. Credit: RudyBalasko/Getty Images

New Developments in the Case of the Missing Journalist

Last week, btw brought you the story of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and was never seen again. Since then, new developments have surfaced in the case, while U.S. officials are left struggling to figure out how to respond. Here, we bring you up to date on the latest developments.

More to the Story

Khashoggi, himself from Saudi Arabia (though he lived in self-imposed exile in Virginia), has long been an outspoken critic of the Saudi government. Because of this, Turkish officials suspect that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. However, Saudi officials originally denied having anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance, saying that he left the Saudi consulate alive just a few minutes after he arrived. Last Friday, they changed their story, admitting that Khashoggi was dead but claiming no responsibility for his killing. The official explanation, according to the Saudi officials? Khashoggi got into a fight with a group of fifteen rogue operators while inside the consulate and was accidentally killed as a result.

Saudi Arabian officials have arrested eighteen agents thought to be involved the killing. They claim that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not order Khashoggi’s murder. Still, the international community is skeptical. Turkish officials continue to insist that Saudi agents were responsible for the death. Four of the fifteen “rogue” operators are reported to have links to the Saudi Crown prince. Another is a senior figure in Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry. And even if Saudi officials turn out not to be responsible for the murder, what they knew and when they knew it is still very unclear.

As more details about Khashoggi’s murder are released, the story becomes more and more tragic. Khashoggi had entered the consulate to pick up paperwork that he would need in order to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Cengiz was waiting for him outside the building. She stayed there for ten hours, and said that he never came out. Moreover, Turkish officials claim to have audio and video recordings that indicate that Khashoggi was interrogated and physically attacked before his death, though they have not yet released those recordings.

The U.S. Reaction

President Trump at first drew a great deal of criticism for his response to the tragedy. He pointed out several times that Khashoggi was not even an American citizen (though he lived in Virginia and wrote for a U.S. newspaper), and said that he found the Saudis’ story to be credible. His refusal to place blame on Saudi Arabia angered many Americans and the international community. Many suspected that Trump’s dealings with wealthy and influential Saudi businessmen might have played a role in his unwillingness to speak out against the Saudis.

In the past week, however, the president has responded more strongly by saying that he is angry at being lied to and that he hopes that Crown Prince Salman isn’t involved–though he still refuses to cancel any arms deals between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also visited Riyadh and assured Turkish officials that the truth will be uncovered. Meanwhile, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have all issued statements demanding a full explanation for the murder.

Khashoggi’s body has not yet been discovered. Turkish police are searching the forests near Istanbul, hoping to find answers.

Dig Deeper Follow this link to read the last article that Jamal Khashoggi wrote for The Washington Post. Write a few sentences about your reaction to the article in light of the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death.
Valerie Cumming


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