Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi

2018 murder in Istanbul, Turkie / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.[4][5] Khashoggi was ambushed and strangled by a 15-member squad of Saudi assassins.[6][7] His body was dismembered and disposed of.[8] Khashoggi's final moments were captured in audio recordings, transcripts of which were subsequently made public.[6][9]

Quick facts: Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, Location, C...
Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi in March 2018
Location of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul
Location of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul
Location of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where the assassination took place[1]
LocationSaudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
Coordinates41.0860°N 29.0121°E / 41.0860; 29.0121
Date2 October 2018 (2018-10-02)
Some time after 1 p.m. (TRT), when Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate[1][2]
VictimJamal Khashoggi
MotiveAllegedly to remove a prominent dissident and critic of the Saudi government[1][3]
ConvictedFor murder:
Fahad Shabib Albalawi
Turki Muserref Alshehri
Waleed Abdullah Alshehri
Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb
Salah Mohammed Tubaigy
VerdictDeath for murder: five persons
Imprisonment for cover-up of the murder: three other persons

The Saudi government engaged in an extensive effort to cover up the killing, including destroying evidence.[7] By 16 October, separate investigations by Turkish officials and The New York Times had concluded that the murder was premeditated and that some members of the Saudi hit team were closely connected to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.[10]

After repeatedly shifting its account of what happened to Khashoggi in the days following the killing, the Saudi government admitted on 25 October that he had been killed in a premeditated murder,[11][12] but denied that the killing took place on the orders of bin Salman.[11][13][14] Bin Salman said he accepted responsibility for the killing "because it happened under my watch" but asserted that he did not order it.[6]

By November 2018, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States had concluded that bin Salman had ordered the assassination.[1] In the same month, the United States levelled sanctions against 17 Saudis over the murder, but did not sanction bin Salman himself.[15] U.S. President Donald Trump disputed the CIA assessment, expressed support for bin Salman, and stated that the investigation into Khashoggi's death had to continue.[16]

The murder prompted intense global scrutiny and criticism of the Saudi government.[17] A report by the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions in June 2019 concluded that Khashoggi's murder was premeditated and called for a criminal investigation by the UN and, because Khashoggi was a resident of the United States, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.[7][17] Saudi prosecutors rejected the findings of the UN investigation and asserted that the killing was not premeditated.[17]

In January 2019, trials began in Saudi Arabia against 11 Saudis accused of involvement in Khashoggi's murder.[18][17] In December 2019, following secretive proceedings, three defendants were acquitted; five were sentenced to death; and three others were sentenced to prison.[17] Two of the acquitted defendants, Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Asiri, were high-level Saudi security officials. The five men sentenced to death were low-level participants and were legally pardoned in May 2020 by Khashoggi's children.[17][19] The results of the trial were criticized by the international community.[17]

On 18 November 2022, the Biden administration provided a legal opinion that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman holds immunity over his alleged role in the assassination of Khashoggi. The federal judge deciding a lawsuit had invited the administration's opinion. The Biden administration said that the State Department was offering this opinion "under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law" unrelated to "the merits of the case". Khashoggi's former fiancee Hatice Cengiz condemned the opinion, stating her feelings that "Jamal died again today" and that the U.S. government was choosing "money" over "justice".[20] Amnesty International called the opinion a "deep betrayal" that "suggests shady deals made throughout."[21] On 6 December, the judge dismissed the lawsuit.[22]