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Did Saudi Arabia Murder This Expat Journalist for Criticizing the Government?

Jamal Khashoggi visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week. He hasn't been seen since.

OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS/NewscomOSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS/NewscomNearly a week after the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, suspicions are rising that the regime in Riyadh has silenced him.

Khashoggi hadn't lived in Saudi Arabia since he moved to the United States last year. According to The Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a contributor, he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week to get a document for his upcoming wedding. He never came out.

Turkish officials have suggested Khashoggi was murdered. "I personally think the possibility of him being killed is stronger than other possibilities, although I do not want to accept it. Because if he was alive, Saudis would provide evidence that he is alive," Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tells CNN.

The Turkish government is looking into Khashoggi's disappearance. CNN reports that 15 Saudi nationals visited the consulate the same day as Khashoggi and have since left the country. That team was sent "specifically for the murder," a person with knowledge of the Turkish investigation tells the Post.

Saudi Arabia, naturally, has denied any involvement. But if Khashoggi is dead, the Saudi government certainly had a motive to kill him. "Saudi Arabia wasn't always this repressive. Now it's unbearable," read the headline for one of his articles. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "is acting like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," Khashoggi wrote in another one. This past February, he claimed bin Salman exercises complete control over the nation's media.

Khashoggi was right about Saudi repression. Though Riyadh has accepted some reforms recently—women there are finally allowed to drive and to work outside the home—the government has also overseen a renewed crackdown on free speech, and particularly on dissent against the government. In fact, as The Intercept reported Saturday, some of the same women who fought for the right to drive are now being taken into custody and/or exiled. Moreover, the Saudi government put at least 100 people to death last year, according to Amnesty International.

Things are particularly bad for reporters. Saudi Arabia is ranked 169th out of 180 in the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders' latest World Press Freedom Index. Independent media outlets are not permitted, and those who "report the reality" are often detained without a trial and sometimes flogged, the group says.

Khashoggi was one journalist who chose to "report the reality." It may have cost him his life.

Photo Credit: OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • Bronze Khopesh||

    Is there anything good about Saudi Arabia?

  • SIV||

  • DiegoF||

    LOL I was sure that was going to be about driving!

    Saudi Arabia may be history's most enlightened country when it comes to the time between men and women getting the vote--I think it was about a year. Of course, they might as well allow infants and camels to vote for all it matters--Saudi Arabia, of course, has no parliament. (There are local "councils" people can vote for, but those are completely powerless; Saudi Arabia is not only an absolute monarchy but an absolute unitary state.)

  • DiegoF||

    Well, there's the fact that Reason's Ministry of Clickbait has seen fit to libel its penal system, and that it presents cogent criticisms of Canada's farcical claims to freedom of speech.

  • SIV||

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia are two of the shittiest allies the US has. I don't give a shit about the death of a Saudi journalist either. In fact, that's a two-fer.

  • DiegoF||

    Why don't you like this guy?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Turkey is a NATO member, which makes the situation awkward.

    For the record, I did not contact an ISIS member in Turkey when I stepped outside the airport.

    ;)

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    Turkey is very disappointed. Only they're allowed to kill critics of the government in their own country.

  • Don't look at me!||

    This where hate speech laws will end up.

  • Woody Chip Hurrrrr?||

    Playing devil's advocate, in the finest proggie tradition ....

    History is replete with examples of dictatorships surviving as dictatorships, albeit poorly, and only coming to grief when they try to introduce democratic reforms. The most famous is the USSR under Gorbachev. China has done sort of well with market reforms, but they face increasing political dissent. Cuba is probably going to explode when Raul dies.

    So Saudi Arabia learned from their examples and will nto suffer the kind of political dissent which makes such a hash of market reform.

    Yeah, that's the ticket. That's the story, and they're going to stick with it come hell or high water.

  • Curmudgeon44||

    Is there anybody who does not expect violent revolution in Saudi Arabia one of these days?

    Maybe, just maybe that would cause Iran to become a valuable ally in the region.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    There's an Iraqi expression: Let them burn each other's wood.

  • JoeJoetheIdiotCircusBoy||

    Kind of weird. If he was living in the US...why did he go to the consulate in Istanbul?

  • RoyMo||

    His fiancee is Turkish.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Guys, we have to rev up an investigation into this matter pronto. Let's send over the head of Interpol ... FUCK!

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