Everything We Know About The Jamal Khashoggi Case
October 18, 2018
The disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has not only caused diplomatic dissension between Turkey and Saudi Arabia but has been the spark of intense international outrage.
Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi native and U.S. resident who, before his disappearance, worked as a columnist for the Washington Post. He resided in the Saudi Arabian area for the majority of his life and was a passionate progressive and political critic. He has been missing since Tuesday, October 2, and is now presumed to be dead.
After many years of working in Saudi Arabia as a journalistic political commentator, Khashoggi left the area for Washington D.C. in the summer of 2017 amid a suppression of dissent. Then, on September 28, 2018, Khashoggi made his first visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, for reasons concerning his marriage documents.
Accompanied by his fiancée Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi returned to the consulate on Tuesday, October 2. Cengiz waited outside the consulate building with the instructions to call Yasin Aktay (aide to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) in the instance that anything should go awry. Three hours passed and Cengiz asked the consulate staff about the whereabouts of Khashoggi. She was told by the staff that he had already left the premises through a back door.
The following day, Saudi authorities issued a statement which confirmed Khashoggi’s disappearance. They remained insistent that he left the building through a back door. However, the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, told the press that Khashoggi did not leave the consulate.
“According to the information we have, this person, who is a Saudi citizen, is still at the Istanbul consulate of Saudi Arabia,” said Kalin.
Contradictory confusion continued as more press statements were made. On October 4, Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Ankara to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi ambassador proceeded to deny any knowledge of the journalist’s sudden disappearance.
This position of ignorance on the matter has been maintained by Saudi officials and royalty when interacting with the press. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia told the press that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate, but that he was not against a Turkish investigation taking place. The consulate general, Mohammad al-Otaibi, made the confirmation to the press that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate or the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He also stated that while the consulate had working cameras, they had not caught any footage of Khashoggi.
However, Turkish officials have stated the opposite, causing the preexisting tension to worsen between the two countries. While Turkish President Erdogan stated that he was remaining hopeful about the state of Khashoggi and that the burden of proof lies on the Saudis, his advisor stated that he wholeheartedly believed that Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate.
As the case became more publicized, outrage increased and outside countries began releasing statements. United States President, Donald Trump, stated that reports on Khashoggi concerned him.
On Tuesday, October 16, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both reported that anonymous Turkish sources say that there are audio recordings of Saudi operatives beating, drugging, murdering and dismembering Khashoggi in the presence and with the approval of the Saudi kingdom’s top diplomats. This report draws in the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman and King Salman into an already politically controversial case.
President Trump maintains the stance that Saudi royalty should remain innocent until proven guilty, despite the rise in public outrage. Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, met with the Turkish President and foreign minister one day after meetings with the king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Sixteen days after the disappearance, Saudi royalty has chosen to stick to their position of not having any idea what happened inside the consulate.
The stance the White House has taken on the case is that Saudi officials should have time to conduct an investigation and that the royalty should be perceived as innocent until proven guilty. This position has emphasized the U.S.-Saudi economic and sociopolitical relations.
It remains to be seen what steps the Trump administration will take if these allegations of Saudi governmental involvement in the case of Khashoggi prove true and how this case will affect already existing political tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.