The disappearance of Saudi journalist, US resident, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul and the news of his “mysterious” death have become the most discussed topic for the mainstream news outlets around the world. Mixed signals and leaked information about the butchery of Khashoggi at the Consulate General of his own country have further inflamed public reaction.
Khashoggi, together with his fiancée, a Turkish woman named Hatice Сengiz, entered the building of the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2 to register divorce papers. After entering the building, Khashoggi never came out, and nobody saw him again.
There are many theories regarding the Saudi journalist’s disappearance and his possible torture and death. Jamal Khashoggi was a known critic of the Saudi government and the country’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
What is perhaps most remarkable is that the Saudis tried to keep silence about the “mysterious” disappearance or possible death of their own citizen for a long time. Only two weeks later, when the Turkish authorities “nailed the Saudis to the wall” with irrefutable evidence of Khashoggi’s killing by a special team of 15 Saudi agents within the Consulate General in Istanbul, the Saudi authorities began talking and finally admitted to his death. However, the Saudi version of Khashoggi’s death is fundamentally different from what others in the media are saying. What are Arabic mainstream media outlets saying about Khashoggi’s case?.
Khashoggi’s death was the result of a “fistfight”
According to the report of the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) – a media outlet of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – published on October 7, an official at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul dismissed the report that Khashoggi was killed there. They strongly denounced the “baseless” allegations, and expressed doubt regarding the opposing accounts of Turkish officials:
At first, Saudi officials said that Jamal Khashoggi had left the Consulate General in Istanbul alive and that they had no information on his whereabouts or fate. However, later they changed their position entirely.
According to ‘Arab News’ (an English-language daily newspaper published in Saudi Arabia), Khashoggi died in a fistfight at the Consulate.
“Discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul… devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,”the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.
According to an ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’ report (a Saudi-run daily newspaper based in London), Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir had said that the death of Khashoggi was the result of a “rogue operation” by people acting beyond the scope of their authority.
However, their answer to a KSA official’s question ‘Why they had to lie about the version of the Khashoggi’s death before?’ is rather surprising.
“The government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago, to return to the Kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies. The deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15-member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia. The government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago, to return to the Kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies. According to the plan, the team could hold Khashoggi in a safe house outside Istanbul for “a period of time” but then release him if he ultimately refused to return to Saudi Arabia. Things went wrong from the start as the team overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence”, Asharq al-Awsat reported citing the Saudi official.
‘Islamic justice’ for Khashoggi’s murders according to the Wahhabi/Saudi interpretation
After all the rumors and accusations, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, consoled the family of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Monday.
At the same time, the Saudi mainstream media didn’t make mention of what had happened to Khashoggi’s body and why it had not been brought home to family of the murdered journalist.
According to ‘Al-Arabiya’ (an Arabic language news agency based in Dubai with close ties to Saudi Arabia), Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council Sheikh Dr. Waleed bin Mohammad al-Samaani stressed that the judiciary enjoys full independence in the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pointing out the case will take its regular course in Saudi Arabia and will reach the judiciary once all procedures are completed.
He added that King Salman and the Crown Prince are “supporters of the judicial institution’s right to stand in the face of anyone who wants to harm the country or harm the rights of citizens, whoever they are.”
When Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the 18 Saudi suspects of Khashoggi’s murder should be tried in Istanbul and called for independent investigation of the murdered journalist, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir declared the Kingdom’s commitment to a “comprehensive investigation” into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
It seems very strange and almost comedic that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, one of the main figures amongKhashoggi’s critics, will head the ‘comprehensive and independent’ investigation of the Saudi ‘dissident’ journalist’s murder.