It has been half a decade since the abhorrent assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the individuals responsible for this heinous crime have yet to face justice.
Instead, there has been a rising level of international tolerance towards them. On October 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered by a Saudi assassination team under the direct command of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Jamal went missing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and subsequent investigations have revealed that he was killed and his body disposed of through the use of acid.
Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) has highlighted that those responsible for the crime had anticipated escaping accountability and assumed that Jamal's case would gradually be forgotten. However, even after five years, this crime continues to evoke profound fear worldwide, highlighting the monarchy's oppressive stance on freedom of thought and expression. The Saudi government has refrained from disclosing the method employed to conceal Khashoggi's body, while also denying his family and friends the opportunity to hold a proper funeral, thereby further accentuating the distressing nature of the situation.
The organization "WJWC" stressed that the gruesome nature of the crime and the inadequate global reaction ensure that Jamal Khashoggi's case remains deeply embedded in the minds of journalists, underscoring the significance of press freedom and human rights. It will not easily fade away as desired by Saudi leaders and their allies, be they dictators or Western partners. The extreme atrocities committed cannot be easily erased from memory, solidifying Jamal Khashoggi's case as a pivotal narrative in the history of journalism for years to come.
The case of Jamal Khashoggi cannot be closed, as the perpetrators, who hold high positions within the Saudi Arabian authorities, have yet to face appropriate consequences. In December 2019, the Criminal Court in Riyadh handed down death sentences to five individuals for the murder, while three others received prison terms totaling 24 years. Surprisingly, some individuals, including Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed Asiri, were acquitted, despite the CIA report implicating him in the crime.
The Khashoggi case carries enduring implications that have a profound impact on the journalism community and raise concerns regarding the preservation of freedom of opinion and expression. The organization strongly emphasizes the principle that "Freedom of opinion cannot be constrained with a chainsaw," symbolizing the brutal dismemberment of Khashoggi's body, and stresses that his narrative should not be exploited as a means of intimidating journalists, irrespective of their gender, within the confines of Saudi Arabia. In light of the perpetrators' evasion of accountability, the organization firmly cautions against the grave and immediate threat posed by the destiny of Khashoggi to a considerable number of Saudi journalists and dissidents, both domestically and internationally.
In August, Salma Al-Shehab was handed a 34-year prison sentence by a Saudi court for a social media post, under the accusation of "supporting individuals aiming to disrupt public order." Her act of solidarity with Loujain Al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi human rights activist, as well as other male and female journalists, activists, and prisoners of conscience, led to these charges against her.
In light of the aforementioned circumstances, the organization puts forth the following demands:
• Saudi Arabia must lift restrictions on journalists, ensuring their safety and allowing them to work without fear of violence or repression.
• Continued international efforts are needed to hold accountable those responsible for the crime and prevent them from escaping justice.
• The international community must collaborate and pressure Saudi Arabia to hold all those involved, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accountable and ensure they face appropriate punishment.
Women Journalists Without Chains
October 4, 2023