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Khashoggi murder - Turkish audio tapes shared, independant investigation needed

U.S. announces sanctions against 17 Saudis over Khashoggi’s death

Thursday 15 November 2018, by siawi3


The Khashoggi investigation must be free from Trump and Erdoğan

Turkey and the US have no leg to stand on when it comes to condemning violence against journalists – and Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder was a sign the rules have changed

DT Max

Fri 9 Nov 2018 11.00 GMT
Last modified on Fri 9 Nov 2018 11.06 GMT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses media in October.
‘The Turkish government hardly has clean hands or a clean heart’ ... president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gives a speech in Ankara in October. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A single death is a tragedy, a million a statistic — so goes Stalin’s brutally cynical comment. Only, today, it seems even a single death is a statistic, especially if it’s a journalist’s.

It’s that worry that motivated a group of us to start an open letter under the joint umbrella of PEN America and the Author’s Guild, urging the United Nations to launch an independent investigation of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. I’d never written such a letter before, and only rarely signed one –but you don’t have to be a weatherman, as they say.

We live in an age where journalists are murdered all the time. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the invaluable organisation that tracks these outrages, 849 journalists have been assassinated since 1992 – and 28 so far in 2018 alone. Who were they? Wendi Winters, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara and Gerald Fischman, all from the Capital Gazette on 28 June. Musa Abdul Kareem from Fasanea (31 July). Mario Leonel Gómez Sánchez from el Heraldo de Chiapas (21 September). No, you probably don’t remember all their names. You may never have heard them.

On one level, the murder of Khashoggi was, of course, no better or worse than these attacks. Winters, Hiaasen, McNamara, Fischman, Abdul Kareem and Gómez Sánchez also had families, colleagues, people they never came home to. There is wrong-doing they never lived to uncover. Their murders too were perpetrated by people who must be punished. But I think there’s something about the murder of the Saudi writer that, in new and threatening ways, tests the system by which journalists do their work. It may have been the cruelty of killing him while on a routine visit to his country’s consul to pick up documents to enable him to marry his fiancee, while she waited outside – a barbarity of which Stalin would have approved. It may have been the farcical brutality of his assassins taking his clothes and dressing a lackey to walk around Istanbul to put over the myth he was still alive.

Or it may have been the disproportionate power brought to bear against Khashoggi: state-sponsored murder against journalists is not new, but employing 15 thugs with connections to a national intelligence service, including a forensic pathologist with a bone saw, is. Khashoggi was not shaking the foundations of Saudi Arabia’s very tense monarchy. He was writing op-eds for the Washington Post. He had no security detail. They could have shot him on a street corner. But then no one would have gotten the message – the rules have changed.

In our letter, we call on the United Nation’s security council to conduct a free, fair investigation. We’re turning to the security council because the version of these lurid events comes mostly from Turkey’s government-controlled press, not free and independent journalistic outlets. Though I’ve seen nothing that contradicts what it has reported, the Turkish government hardly has clean hands or a clean heart; Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, has called the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the “world’s foremost jailer of journalists.” Speculation on why he is allowing the release of so much information about the alleged crime varies from a regional grudge match –Turkey and Saudi Arabia compete to dominate the Muslim world – to hopes for a Saudi payoff, to rescue his highly indebted economy.

Why not call for a US-led investigation? Khashoggi was not only a US resident, he wrote for an important US newspaper. I’m a US citizen and I live under the rule of law – but I also live in a country where the president has made attacks on the press part of his political strategy, and once praised a Montana politician for body-slamming a Guardian journalist for doing his job (and found it so pleasing he repeated his praise just a few days ago). Any threat of retaliation seems unlikely. At the same time, the US’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia, with its endless trade in arms and oil, calls into question its ability to conduct a truly independent investigation. The UN, by contrast, has the ability and authority to appoint a credible investigative team. Such a team has already been called for by international rights advocates, most notably by David Kaye and Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, and extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, respectively. Three UN authorities – the Secretary General, the Security Council, or the Human Rights Council – could authorise such an investigation. The Turkish foreign minister has already said publicly that the country would cooperate.

That remains to be seen, but it’s still the right way forward – indeed, maybe, the only way forward. Because what was really new about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was the lack of shame the killers showed. This was practically a mob-style rub-out. To let it pass without a independent international investigation would be the biggest shame of all.



Jamal Khashoggi murder: Turkey ’shared Khashoggi tapes’ with Saudi, US

10 November 2018

Media captionJamal Khashoggi: What we know about the journalist’s disappearance and death Video here

Turkey says it has shared recordings related to the murder of the journalist and writer Jamal Khashoggi with the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and others.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his assertion that Saudi Arabia knew who had killed Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi rulers, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Saudi Arabia has admitted he was murdered there, but denied suggestions its royal family was involved.

It had initially maintained the writer had left the consulate unharmed.

Is Saudi crown prince finished?
The Jamal Khashoggi story so far
Jamal Khashoggi in his own words

The Saudis have also denied comments allegedly made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman describing Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist.

The reported phone call to the White House came before Saudi Arabia admitted Khashoggi had been killed.

What do we know about the murder?

There is still no consensus on how Khashoggi died. He entered the consulate to sort out documents for his marriage.

Initially, Turkish media had quoted sources as saying Turkey had audio recordings proving that Khashoggi had been tortured before being murdered.

Media captionHatice Cengiz: “We didn’t say any goodbyes” Video here

Last week, however, Turkey said he had been strangled immediately after entering the consulate and his body dismembered “in accordance with plans made in advance”.

No body has been found and a Turkish official said it had been dissolved.

Saudi Arabia has changed its account of what happened to Khashoggi.

When he first disappeared, it said Khashoggi had walked out of the building alive. It later admitted he had been murdered, saying the killing was premeditated and a result of a “rogue operation”.

It has arrested 18 suspects who, it says, will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia. Turkey wants the suspects to be extradited.

Turkey has not publicly blamed Saudi Arabia for the killing.

“We gave the recordings, we gave them to Saudi Arabia, we gave them to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the English,” President Erdogan said in a televised speech on Saturday.

“They listened to the conversations which took place here, they know”, he said.

No other country has admitted hearing the said recording.

Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has called on world leaders to “bring the perpetrators to justice”.

Who was Jamal Khashoggi?

For decades, he was close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government.

Who was Jamal Khashoggi?
Excerpts from some of his columns

But he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US last year. From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of the crown prince.

During a phone call with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton, Prince Mohammed said Khashoggi had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organisation, according to the Washington Post.

The phone call is reported to have taken place on 9 October, a week after Khashoggi disappeared.

Prince Mohammed also reportedly urged the White House to preserve the US-Saudi alliance.
Media captionWhy do Trump’s Saudi job numbers keep growing? Video here

In a statement to the newspaper, Khashoggi’s family denied he had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and said the murdered writer had himself denied this repeatedly in recent years.

What do other countries say?

Saudi Arabia has faced a backlash over the death, including from its allies, who have called for answers.

US President Donald Trump has said he is “not satisfied” with the Saudi account. However, he also said he was unwilling to sacrifice lucrative arms deals with the country.

Media captionHow has the death of Jamal Khashoggi impacted the war in Yemen? Video here

France has said it will impose sanctions, but given no details.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said Khashoggi’s murder had “possibly” given the US and the UK a chance to put new pressure on Saudi Arabia over other issues.



Jamal Khashoggi murder ordered by agent - Saudi prosecutor

15.11.18 1 hour ago

Jamal Khashoggi death

Media caption: Jamal Khashoggi: What we know about the journalist’s disappearance and death

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has concluded that an intelligence officer ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and not Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The officer was tasked with persuading the dissident journalist to return to the Gulf kingdom, a spokesman said.

Khashoggi was given a lethal injection after a struggle in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, he added.

The public prosecutor has charged 11 people over the murder and is seeking the death penalty for five of them.

Their cases have been referred to a court while investigations into another 10 people suspected of involvement continue.

The US treasury department later imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials who it said had “targeted and brutally killed” Khashoggi, who lived and worked in the US, and had to “face consequences for their actions”.

They included Saud al-Qahtani, a former adviser to the crown prince who the treasury department alleged was “part of the planning and execution of the operation” that led to Khashoggi’s murder; Maher Mutreb, who it said had “co-ordinated and executed” the operation; and Mohammed Alotaibi, the Istanbul consul-general.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions were “an important step in responding to Khashoggi’s killing” and vowed to “continue to seek all relevant facts, consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved”.

The Jamal Khashoggi story so far
Jamal Khashoggi in his own words

At a news conference in Riyadh on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaan said Khashoggi’s body was dismembered inside the consulate after his death.

The body parts were then handed over to a local “collaborator” outside the grounds, he added. A composite sketch of the collaborator has been produced and investigations are continuing to locate the remains.

Mr Shalaan did not identify any of those charged with the murder.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Critics believe Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman would have been aware of the operation

But he said investigations had “revealed that the person who ordered the killing was the head of the negotiations team” sent to Istanbul by deputy intelligence chief Gen Ahmed al-Assiri to force Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia from his self-imposed exile.

“[The crown prince] did not have any knowledge about it,” he insisted.

Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, has denied any role in what he has called a “heinous crime that cannot be justified”.

Critics believe it is highly unlikely he would not have been aware of the operation.

Several of the 21 people arrested over the murder have been seen in his security detail in the past. Gen Assiri and Mr Qahtani have also been sacked over the incident.

Mr Shalaan said Mr Qahtani had been banned from travelling and remained under investigation, but he did not say what had happened to Gen Assiri.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said “the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government” but that he does not believe King Salman gave it.
Media captionJamal Khashoggi’s fiancee: “We didn’t say any goodbyes”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that some of the statements by the Saudi deputy public prosecutor were “unsatisfactory”.

“They say this person was killed because he resisted, whereas this murder was premeditated,” he told reporters.

“Again, they say he was dismembered... but this isn’t a spontaneous thing. The necessary equipment and people were previously brought in to kill and later dismember him.”

Turkish officials have alleged that the 15 Saudi agents who flew to Istanbul in the hours before the murder, one of whom is believed to have been a forensic pathologist working for the Saudi interior ministry, were carrying a bone saw.

“Those who gave the command as well as instigators should also be clarified and this process should not be covered up,” Mr Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey would “shed light on this murder in all its aspects.”



By Kathryn Watson
CBS News

November 15, 2018, 10:56 AM

U.S. announces sanctions against 17 Saudis over Khashoggi’s death

Last Updated Nov 15, 2018 11:04 AM EST

Video here

The U.S. Treasury Department announced a round of sanctions against 17 Saudi Arabians Thursday, in response to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The sanctions fall under an executive order implementing the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

“These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions. The United States continues to diligently work to ascertain all of the facts and will hold accountable each of those we find responsible in order to achieve justice for Khashoggi’s fiancée, children, and the family he leaves behind. The government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists.”

The sanctioned Saudis are: Saud al-Qahtani; Maher Mutreb; Salah Tubaigy; Meshal Albostani; Naif Alarifi; Mohammed Alzahrani; Mansour Abahussain; Khalid Alotaibi; Abdulaziz Alhawsawi; Waleed Alsehri; Thaar Alharbi; Fahad Albalawi; Badr Alotaibi; Mustafa Almadani; Saif Alqahtani; Turki Alsehri; and Mohammed Alotaibi.

Khashoggi’s death prompted international outrage, and President Trump’s reluctance to criticize the Saudis was criticized by observers. The president has expressed that he doesn’t want to disrupt the financial relationship the. U.S. has with the Saudis.

“I don’t want to lose all of that investment being made into our country. I don’t want to lose a million jobs, I don’t want to lose $110 billion dollars in terms of investment,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Monday. “But it’s really $450 billion if you include other than military. So that’s very important.”

It’s unclear whether the U.S. will take any further action to punish the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia warns against “threats” after Trump’s comment on missing journalist

Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month. The Saudis initially said he left the embassy, before ultimately acknowledging that he died inside, after what Saudi officials described as a brawl gone wrong.