Truths and a Bunch of Lies: What Happened to Journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

By Izzy Sutton

The name Jamal Khashoggi has been floating around the news cycle for the past couple of months. Why? To put it simply, this Washington Post columnist was murdered in a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey on October 2, 2018. But the situation is far more complex than that. Khashoggi went to the consulate to complete paperwork for his divorce so he was free to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never came out. For weeks, the press was speculating over what happened and why? Over the course of months since Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia has continued to lie about what happened and the fate of the journalist.

Immediately after the incident, a spokesperson from the kingdom insisted Khashoggi left the consulate safely. This story had too many holes to convince many people of its accuracy. For one, there is security evidence of Khashoggi entering the building but no evidence suggesting he left.

While the international community continued to pick apart the lies, Saudi Arabia finally admitted Khashoggi was dead. This came as a shock to most of the international community. However, to shed some of the blame, the Saudis claimed his death was caused by a brawl with an unknown man that led to his death. Because we all know how much 60-year old men like getting into fist fights. This story also had its holes, revealed by one obvious but morbid question: what happened to the body?

Conveniently, while the Saudis were playing cover up. Turkey was conducting its own investigation. The Turks released the names of 15 Saudis that had flown into Istanbul on a private jet. Some of the 15 happened to be some spies, special-forces officers, and, super interestingly, a coroner. Early this month, Saudi Arabia subtly admitted that Khashoggi’s death was a premeditated murder, but maintained the Crown Prince had no involvement. Just this week, the kingdom has announced that it will prosecute the deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and 21 conspirators for the murder of Khashoggi. Six officials have already been removed from their positions.

Even as the news cycle starts to die down, new twists are constantly being added to the story. Just a couple of days ago, the CIA announced the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an order from the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman. This is a major development that may affect the future course of the United States’ foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia. After this announcement, the Senate is hoping to put pressure on the Trump administration to halt all arm deals with Saudi Arabia. This plan will hopefully stop US involvement in the war in Yemen.

The news cycle has been talking a lot about the interesting relationship the US has with Saudi Arabia. But one question that is often skipped over is, why the attack on the journalist at all? The United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia is complicated, and it is only getting more so. However, this was just another example of a horrible measure taken to silent opposing and critical views of a government. In Khashoggi’s last article, he talks about peace and how “the Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices.” Khashoggi’s legacy should be remembering the importance of freedom of speech and how this right should not be taken for granted. I think this is a lesson for every country to remember that silencing the press will destroy trust between leaders and civilians. As a country that was founded on the idea of freedom and democracy, I hope our government and governments around the world will condemn Saudi Arabia to show that this action will not be tolerated.