Over eight months after his assassination, a report by an independent United Nations rights expert Wednesday called for an international criminal investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, citing “credible evidence” linking Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to the assassination.
In her report, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said she had “determined that there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi Officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s.”
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate on October 2 last year. The CIA and some Western countries believe the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.
US intelligence agencies have also concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered his killing. Turkish officials made tape recordings of the killing of Khashoggi in the consulate, and the Turkish government was the first to say it had definitive proof Khashoggi was assassinated.
Khashoggi was ambushed and dismembered by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he had gone to finalise paperwork for his marriage to Hatice Cengiz. The Saudi public prosecutor has so far indicted 11 unidentified suspects, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.
Following an international outcry, Saudi Arabia provided money and millions of worth of real estate to Khashoggi’s children. The dissident had four adult children, at least two of whom are US citizens. Saudi Arabia provided each of the four with a house in the family’s home city of Jeddah worth about $4 million in addition to a steady stream of cash payments of $10,000 to $15,000 a month, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, according to the New York Times.
A graduate of Indiana State University, Khashoggi began his career in the 1980s, covering the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the decade-long war that followed for the English-language daily Saudi Gazette. He travelled extensively in the Middle East, covering Algeria’s 1990s war against Islamic militants, and the rise of Islamic militancy in Sudan.
He served as an editor for nine years on the Islamist-leaning al-Madina newspaper. In 2003 and in 2007, Khashoggi was appointed the editor of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan but lost his job on both occasions after publishing criticism of religious extremism. In 2015, he launched a TV network, Al-Arab but it was shut down within days.
For decades, Khashoggi was close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government. But he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US last year from where he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post, criticising the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In his first column for the newspaper, Khashoggi had said he feared being arrested after Prince Mohammed bin Salman became first in line to succeed his father King Salman, hinting at the former’s extreme disliking for dissent.
(Inputs from agencies)