Head of Communications for the Turkish government, Fahrettin Altun, has condemned Saudi Arabia’s court ruling on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling it “an acquittal for those who issued orders to kill him.”
In an article on the media and publishing outlet Medium yesterday, Altun said that “Those who signed Khashoggi’s death warrant, dispatched a death squad to Istanbul and disappeared the slain journalist’s body has been cleared of blame through sham trials. The freedom of the press and the freedom of expression have been disregarded.”
Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post who held an influential position in the Saudi press before going into self-exile for criticising the Kingdom’s recent policies, disappeared on October 2nd following his visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. After weeks of speculation and investigations by both the Turkish and Saudi sides, the former discovered that Saudi agents murdered him for his views as he intended to attain documents for his marriage. At the same time, the latter attempted to cover up its involvement.
The murder was initially linked back to Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman through audio recordings obtained by Turkish intelligence. Still, he has only admitted responsibility for the incident taking place under his watch while denying any direct involvement in it himself.
The Kingdom then ruled this week the sentencing to death of five of the agents involved in the murder, resulting in further international condemnation due to the Crown Prince himself not being held to account or investigated by the country.
Altun continued, stating that if the Saudi narrative of the incident was to be accepted then “we must accept that a group of intelligence officers murdered Khashoggi on their initiative and that the Saudi administration had no connection with the murder. People who are known for their close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman are not guilty in this execution, either. Moreover, the court has not even deigned to disclose the names of people who were sentenced.”
This flaw in the Kingdom’s narrative of the chain of events proves it wrong, according to Altun, making it “unacceptable that the execution process is swept under the rug with a symbolic trial.” He stressed that “We are witnessing the acquittal of perpetrators who murdered a journalist and ripped his body to pieces before the eyes of the world. No one knows why the institutions and countries that talk about the importance of press freedom remain silent about this.”
Altun also mentioned that it was Turkey which called for the case to be investigated and taken to an international court since the beginning of the incident. However, “neither the Saudi administration nor the West took these calls seriously, and people in connection with the murder were tried in Saudi Arabia. That is how we have reached this point. We see that there is an attempt to sweep this brutal murder under the rug despite Turkey’s insistence and efforts. Unfortunately, the Saudi administration, which cannot even answer the question concerning the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body, is not acting fairly.”
He added that “the international public that talks about the importance of press freedom everyday has failed in the Khashoggi case. The important question is that: Would we have seen the same result again if the international public had been more active to uncover the real perpetrators of Khashoggi’s assassination and if there was more struggle for fair and impartial trial?”