Watch: Friends of Jamal Khashoggi mark one year anniversary of his murder

Watch: Friends of Jamal Khashoggi mark one year anniversary of his murder
Copyright REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo
By Lauren Chadwick
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Last year, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. One year later, his fiancée says she still has questions for Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


It has been a year since journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was murdered.

The extrajudicial killing stunned the world, creating an outcry from the international community.

The implication of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman also damaged the country's reputation overseas.

But even one year after the Washington Post contributor disappeared, many questions surrounding the details of his death remain unanswered.

On the one year anniversary of Khashoggi's death, his friends unveiled a memorial stone outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he is believed to have died.

A brutal murder

Khashoggi was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he was set to obtain documents to pave the way for him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

The journalist had been living in self-imposed exile since September 2017 in the United States after sharing critical views of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in his columns.

Intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries assessed recordings of Khashoggi's struggle with officials inside the consulate. He could have been given a sedative and later suffocated, according to a UN report on the murder by Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The UN report details the timeline of how Saudi officials, including the crown prince, changed their story about what had happened to Khashoggi.

Callamard also addressed the responsibility of Mohammed bin Salman, recognising the difficulties of determining his involvement and stating nonetheless: "evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances.

"While the Saudi government claims that these resources were put in place by Ahmed Asiri, every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the Crown Prince being aware at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr Khashoggi, was being launched," the UN report said.

Ceremony outside the Saudi consulate

On Wednesday, friends of Khashoggi honoured his memory and criticised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the crime.

"Why does someone have to die such a hideous murder and get chopped up for the world to start paying attention to everything that's been happening in the region since the fall of the Arab Spring? You see if they can't stop oppressing us we won't stop resisting," said Mohamed Soltan, a human rights activist and friend.

"Where is Jamal’s body and will the people who did this atrocity to him be brought to justice?" asked Turan Kışlakçı who is head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association. He asked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to donate the consulate building in Turkey so friends of the journalist can create a museum in honour of Khashoggi.

Andrew Gardner, from Amnesty International, called the Saudi investigation into the murder a sham.

"How meaningless it is to the Saudi authorities to make claims of admissions of responsibility when they stand in the way of genuine justice. How meaningless it is when the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to ruthlessly, in fact, intensify the crackdown on human rights defenders, on women's rights activists, on journalists within the country in the year since their heinous murder of Jamal," Gardner said.

Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace prize winner and Yemeni journalist called out the Saudi Arabian government for the act saying that "no country can do this".

"I still seek justice. I want to know what happened to his body. I want his friends to be released from jail. I want that those in power are held accountable for their actions," said Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, during the ceremony.


Press freedom

Khashoggi's last column talked about freedom in the Arab world, remarking that Freedom House only classifies one Arab country as free.

"A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change," he said.

At the ceremony on Wednesday, Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of the Washington Post delivered a message of press freedom:

"Journalists are under threat, not only in this region but around the world. They encounter censorship, harassment, and violence for doing a job that is essential to our freedom. In every part of the world, authoritarian leaders are increasing their grip on the press, trying to prevent reporters from holding the powerful to account."

Unanswered questions

In an interview with CBS News that aired just before the anniversary of Khashoggi's death, Mohammad bin Salman said he did not order the murder of Khashoggi but said he took responsibility for it as it was committed by people working for the Saudi government.


Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz reacted in an interview with the Associated Press on October 1, demanding more answers from the Crown Prince.

"Why was Jamal killed and why has the public not been informed about the death until now....we don't know where the body is. His funeral prayers have not been performed. There has been no burial," she said.

The UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, reacted to the Crown Prince's comments on Sunday on Twitter, stating that he had taken great pains to distance himself from the murder.

"Yet the Saudi government has consistently rejected my finding that the murder of Mr Khashoggi was an extrajudicial execution for which the State is responsible... a “responsible” Statesman should not have tolerated 12 months of disinformation and 12 months continuing policies of intolerance and repression that led to Mr Khashoggi murder," Callamard wrote on Twitter.

She has called for the UN to establish a mechanism to investigate targeted killings.

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