News Media Canada supports WAN-IFRA and the World Editors Forum's call on Saudi Arabia to provide immediate answers in the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after a supposedly routine visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October and has since been confirmed dead.
Late Friday, 19 October, Saudi State Television confirmed that Mr. Khashoggi had died following an altercation inside the consulate building. Growing international consensus suggests an assassination team sent from Riyadh to intercept the dissident journalist murdered Mr. Khashoggi, and that senior Saudi officials were complicit in ordering his death.
Since launching investigations at the beginning of last week, Turkish intelligence sources have been providing leaked information that strongly implicates Saudi Arabian government figures close to the most senior levels of the monarchy. Experts from the intelligence community believe the shocking details of the murder and subsequent attempted cover-up point to a level of intelligence gathering that suggests Turkey has hard evidence to support its claims.
A US resident and regular columnist for The Washington Post, Mr. Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia last year and had been outspoken in his criticism of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and aspects of his reform programme. He had visited the Istanbul consulate to sign divorce papers, and when he failed to reappear, his Turkish fiancé notified local police.
WAN-IFRA calls on the Turkish authorities to urgently provide proof of its claims of Saudi state involvement in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, as well as increased international pressure for a full, verifiable accounting from the Saudi monarchy as to the events leading up to his death.
If Saudi state involvement is indeed proven, the international community must stand firm in its stated resolve to insist on the highest level of investigation and punishment for those responsible – both for the perpetrators of this horrendous crime and the masterminds who ordered it.
WAN-IFRA vehemently condemns the growing culture of impunity for crimes against journalists with which Saudi officials presumably believed they would be protected by. Nine out of ten journalist murders go unpunished and fuel a cycle of violence and fear that protects and emboldens criminals while undermining the role of journalism in society. If proven, the state-sanctioned killing of a critical opposition journalist on foreign soil should be met with universal condemnation and a genuine commitment to actively support efforts to improve the safety and security of journalists working worldwide.