Saudi Crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman has admitted responsibility over respected journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in a PBS documentary that is due to be aired next week. Frustratingly, despite a barage of evidence that points to the crown prince’s involvement in the murder, he has managed to evade being held accountable. This is unacceptable.
Khashoggi, a veteran journalist from Saudi Arabia, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, where he was due to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding to his fiancée Hatice Cengiz. When hours had passed and he had not returned, his fiancée alerted the police as she feared for his safety.
CCTV footage emerged of a Khashoggi body double entering and exiting in an effort to claim that he was no longer on Saudi property. Conflicting reports from the Saudi government streaming into the media. But the perpetrators of the murder wanted to silence him and stop him criticising the leadership of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia – a country Khashoggi loved and had planned to return to one day.
Perhaps one of the most heart breaking facts of this case is that Khashoggi was a journalist who spoke out against injustice and human rights violations and wanted Saudi Arabia to prosper.
Turkish officials investigating the murder reported that agents had acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government. In addition, the United Nations special rapporteur had concluded that Khashoggi was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible”. She had also found that there was “credible evidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and other high-level officials were responsible for his death. However, unsurprisingly, the UN rapporteur’s report was rejected by the Saudi government which denied the prince had any involvement.
Now we have a case where the prince himself has stated that “It happened under my watch. I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch.” Though he had initially said, “We have nothing to hide” while officials in Riyadh had changed their story on numerous occasions. Despite the fact that the crown prince alleges that he didn’t have prior knowledge that the murder was going to take place, there is more than enough evidence to hold him to account. The case of Jamal Khashoggi must be brought back into the media spotlight and pressure must be exerted to seek justice for Khashoggi and his family and uphold press freedom.
Those in power such as US President Donald Trump cannot continue to defend the Saudi prince and aid him in evading accountability. Shortly after the murder of Khashoggi, Trump met with the crown prince at the G20 and called him a “strong person” who “truly loves his country”. Trump further intensified his defence of the prince – calling him a “great ally” –in spite of CIA reports that concluded that it was indeed the crown prince that had ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.
It is inconceivable that such a brutal murder could be carried out without the knowledge of the crown prince and for this reason those in power need to speak up and call for action to be taken.
Western politicians have continued to keep ties with Saudi Arabia and have overlooked the role he played in Khashoggi’s murder preferring to focus on economic and financial benefits of their relationship with the oil rich kingdom.
However, it is in the interest of freedom of the press, for journalists like myself, for justice and human rights that those responsible for the death of a respected journalist be reprimanded. Those who have faced any form of human rights violations should be given the right to seek justice in the courts. It is for this very reason that the Saudi crown prince and anyone complicit in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi needs to be put on trial.
As a Muslim myself, I would like to send a message to the Saudi crown prince that despite being the ruler of the world’s holiest Muslim sites, he who is going against the very tenets of his faith. When Islam calls for truth, peace and to care for every human life, why are you killing your own brother? Should he not face justice on earth, he will have to answer to God. I hope truth and justice will prevail and those accountable will be brought on trial as testament that those in power cannot get away with silencing the press.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.