Jamal Khashoggi was a former Saudi journalist and dissident who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Although I have only become familiar with Khashoggi after his death, he was a well-established and prominent journalist both in and outside Saudi Arabia. The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi is a big story that ties into the Saudi government and Crown Prince.
To begin looking at Khashoggi’s work, I think it’s important to understand why he was willing to risk everything for his work. Jamal Khashoggi, although described as a ‘liberal’ by the Global West, was just someone who truly believed in freedom of speech and autonomy in Saudi. Born in the ’50s, Khashoggi lived through a change in Saudi Arabia, one that saw the kingdom move towards a more ‘strict’ version of Islam and Wahhabism. For Khashoggi perhaps it wasn’t about liberalism or conservatism, left or right, more about having the freedom to say what you believe in. Looking into Khashoggi’s life, the most interesting and unusual thing I found was his relationship with the royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was born into a family that had extremely close relations to the royal family, although Jamal Khashoggi himself had a somewhat rocky relationship with them. Khashoggi was close to and worked for the former King of Saudi, and during the King’s rule, he worked as an aid to Saudi representatives both in Europe and the States.
Jamal Khashoggi started his career in journalism in the ’80s as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette. By the 1990’s he had progressed onto Editor-in-Chief of Al Madina, one of Saudi Arabia’s oldest newspapers. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Khashoggi was deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News. In 2003, Khashoggi was fired from his role at Al Watan, prompting him to leave Saudi Arabia under voluntary exile. In 2017 Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the last time and began working for the Washington Post.
When Jamal Khashoggi entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October 2018, he never made it out. Although there have been many different reports and speculations on what happened to Khashoggi when he entered the consulate, there are few we can be sure of. What we do know is that Khashoggi arrived at the consulate with his fiancée to pick up papers proving the finalisation of a divorce, which concerned his former marriage. It is said that his fiancée waited outside for him for over 10 hours, after which she then alerted Turkish authorities. The initial response from Saudi was that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive. However, 18 days later, they reported that he had died during a fistfight. The Saudi version of events later changed, stating that Khashoggi died during a chokehold in an attempt to arrest him. After much speculation from those on the outside, it was revealed that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate. An independent investigation into his assassination revealed that after he was murdered, Khashoggi was then dismembered by Saudi officials in an attempt to cover up the assassination. The investigation also concludes that the orders for Khashoggi’s assassination are likely to have come from high up in the Saudi government. Although Saudi Arabia denies the Crown Prince Salman’s involvement, many fingers are pointing in his direction.
After his death, Jamal Khashoggi, along with other journalists who’ve risked their lives to report, has been honoured as Time person of the year 2018.