The final column of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been published, revealing his demand for stronger protections for a free press in the Arab world.
Washington Post global opinion editor Karen Attiah published the column on Wednesday, two weeks after Khashoggi disappeared inside a Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where it is feared he was murdered.
Attiah received the column from Khashoggi’s assistant the day after he was reported missing, but had withheld if from publication until now in hopes of going through editing rounds with the writer.
‘Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post,’ Attiah wrote in note on the column.
Jamal Kashoggi is seen with his finacee Hatice Cengiz. The Washington Post published Khashoggi’s final column on Wednesday, two weeks after he disappeared in a Saudi consulate
Turkish police officers prepare to enter the residence of the Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi in Istanbul to conduct a search on Wednesday
Turkish crime scene investigation team conduct an investigation on the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate on Wednesday
Investigators are seen carrying gear during the search of the consulate on Wednesday. The search lasted for eight hours and stretched past midnight
Attiah continued: ‘This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for.’
Khashoggi’s final column is a straightforward call for greater press freedom in Arab countries – and a demand that the rest of the world hold the region’s governments accountable for attacks on journalists.
The writer warns: ‘Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.’
He cited as examples the five-year imprisonment of Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi for penning ‘comments contrary to the Saudi establishment’, and the Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper.
‘These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community,’ Khashoggi wrote. ‘Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.’
Now, instead of the silence Khashoggi lamented, an intense international backlash has grown in the wake of suspicions that the journalist was tortured and murdered inside the consulate by a 15-man Saudi hit squad.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Saudi citizen with a U.S. green card, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 for paperwork needed to get married.
Hatice Cengiz, 36, who waited outside for hours for her fiance Khashoggi to return, has spoken of being left in a ‘state of deep confusion and sadness’
Though his financee waited outside the building for hours, Khashoggi never emerged.
On Wednesday, Turkish police conducted a new intensive eight-hour search of the consulate, combing for forensic clues to Khashoggi’s fate.
A team of dozens of police and prosecutors, including forensics experts in white overalls entered the residence of the consul, searching for clues with cadaver dogs and drones.
Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi, who was at the consulate when the alleged assassination of Khashoggi took place, fled Turkey one day before the search was carried out.
It follows a search on Monday, in which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said that investigators found fresh paint and ‘toxic materials’ – potential signs of an attempted cover-up.
Meanwhile, in the Turkish press, sickening reports claim that Khashoggi may have been dismembered with a bone saw while he was still alive.
A man holds Yeni Safak newspaper in a cafe with a headline that reads ‘This is how Khashoggi was slaughtered’ in Ankara, Turkey on Wednesday. The outlet says it has audio of his death
Turkish police flies a drone over the residence of the Saudi Arabia’s Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi on Wednesday in Istanbul during an eight-hour search
Turkish forensic police officers use a sniffer dog for investigation at the back yard of the residence of the Saudi consul Mohammed al-Otaibi in the early hours of Thursday
Istanbul Police Department’s cadaver dog Melo inspects the garden of the Consul General of Saudi Arabia as part of an investigation on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Yeni Safak on Wednesday cited what it described as an audio recording of Khashoggi’s slaying, which it said showed the writer was tortured.
The newspaper said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on the tape, telling those allegedly torturing Khashoggi: ‘Do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble.’
The newspaper said one of the Saudis torturing Khashoggi replied: ‘Shut up if you want to live when you return to (Saudi) Arabia.’
The audio also reveals that Khashoggi’s fingers were cut off during an interrogation before he was beheaded and dismembered, according to the reports.
Turkish investigators suspect 15 Saudi security men who flew in and out of the country on private jets the day Khashoggi disappeared.
Several of the suspects have close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – known as ‘MBS’ – who is effectively Saudi Arabia’s ruler.
Prince Mohammed has denied any knowledge of a plot to kill Khashoggi – although U.S. intelligence officials reportedly have growing circumstantial evidence of the prince’s involvement.
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo (left) met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in an attempt to diffuse the crisis
On Wednesday, Pompeo (right) met with Turkish President Recep Erdogan to discuss the investigation into killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi
U.S. intelligence agencies are preparing an assessment of Prince Mohammed and his potential role in the case, and plan to deliver it to President Donald Trump, the New York Times reported.
Trump said on Wednesday he did not want to abandon ally Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance, and asked Turkey for the alleged audio recordings – which thus far Istanbul has not shared with its NATO allies.
It came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned from a diplomatic trip to Riyadh that showed few signs of diffusing the mounting diplomatic crisis.
After meeting the king and crown prince on Tuesday, Pompeo said Saudi Arabia has committed to a full investigation.
Asked whether they said Khashoggi was alive or dead, Pompeo said: ‘They didn’t talk about any of the facts.’
Pompeo also flew to Turkey to met with Erdogan on Wednesday, telling reporters after that meeting that Erdogan ‘made clear that the Saudis had cooperated with the investigation that the Turks are engaged in and they are going to share information’.
He added: ‘If a country engages in activity that is unlawful it’s unacceptable. No one is going to defend activity of that nature. We just need to simply say what happened.’
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI: A TIMELINE
Here is a timeline of events in the disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident, not seen since he entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
At 1.14pm (10.14amGMT) on October 2, Khashoggi is recorded entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a surveillance camera. The image is published by the Washington Post.
He was at the consulate to receive an official document for his upcoming marriage. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, accompanies him but waits outside.
On October 3 the Washington Post, for whom Khashoggi writes opinion pieces, raises the alarm, saying the journalist has not been seen since he entered the consulate.
His fiancee camps out near barricades in front of the Saudi consulate hoping for news.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tells a news conference: ‘According to information we have this individual… is still at the consulate as of now’.
The US State Department says it is investigating.
On October 4, after an initial period of silence, Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi disappeared ‘after he left the consulate building’.
The Saudi ambassador is summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Bloomberg that Khashoggi is not inside the consulate and ‘we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises,’ which is Saudi sovereign territory.
A government source says Turkish police believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate.
‘Based on their initial findings, the police believe that the journalist was killed by a team especially sent to Istanbul and who left the same day,’ the source tells AFP. Riyadh calls the claim ‘baseless’.
Turkey seeks permission to search Saudi Arabia’s consulate, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, commenting for the first time, says he will wait for the outcome of the investigation before taking a decision.
Erdogan asks Riyadh to ‘prove’ its claim that Khashoggi left its consulate.
US President Donald Trump says he is ‘concerned’. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls for a ‘thorough’ and ‘transparent’ probe by Washington’s ally Saudi Arabia into the disappearance.
Saudi Arabia agrees to let Turkish authorities search the consulate, the Turkish foreign ministry says.
Local media report on the possibility that Khashoggi was kidnapped and taken to Saudi Arabia.
English-language state broadcaster TRT World says Turkish officials believe the Saudis may have taken the consulate’s CCTV footage with them when they returned to the kingdom.
CCTV footage released by Turkish TV shows a van entering the consulate on October 2, before going to the nearby consul’s residence.
The Washington Post, citing US intelligence intercepts, says Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered an operation to trap Khashoggi.
The US State Department says it had not been tipped off about such an operation.
Trump calls for explanations from Saudi Arabia, saying he has talked ‘more than once’ and ‘at the highest levels’ to partners in Riyadh. He says he has been in contact with Khashoggi’s fiancee, who has asked for his help.
British entrepreneur Richard Branson suspends two directorships linked to tourism projects in Saudi Arabia.
Several prestigious partners cancel their planned attendance at the end of the month at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, a lavish conference dubbed the ‘Davos in the Desert’.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Ford chairman Bill Ford are among those to pull out of the Riyadh event.
Turkish police investigators and prosecutors conduct an eight-hour overnight search of the Saudi consulate, taking away samples.
Trump says he received a strong denial from King Salman of any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi.
‘It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?’ Trump tells reporters.
The next day, US top diplomat Mike Pompeo arrives in Riyadh for urgent talks with the king and crown prince.