Jamal Khashoggi: Martyr of people’s freedom

Issue

“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe” – Thomas Jefferson.

It was late Dele Giwa who posited that every journalist must endeavour to show concern anytime he hears the death of a fellow colleague even if such journalist is far away in any part of the world.

Giwa who was killed in a mysterious way during the IBB regime, was of the view that the hazard of journalism profession is so much that media workers must endeavour to rally round themselves, and failure to do that no one else could do it.

He also contended that unless journalists find fit and necessary to come together, they would have isolated themselves.

This position of Dele Giwa- that legendary writer- has brought to fore why media workers from various parts of the globe are presently condemning the October 2nd, 2018 murder of that journalist-Jamal Khashoggi in the hands of security officials in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to media reports, Khashoggi, a well known Saudi journalist who found himself in his country’s consulate to obtain a marriage document, mysteriously disappeared thereafter.

This mysterious disappearance is better imagined, for after more than two weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia has now admitted that he was killed within the consulate in what officials termed as a “rogue operation and has vowed to punish those responsible.”

Khoshoggi was once an adviser to the royal family but fell sharply out of favour with Saudi government and went into self-imposed exile in 2017.

Born in Madina in 1958, Khashoggi studied Business Administration in the US Indiana State University.

He then returned to Saudi Arabia and started his career as a journalist in the 1980s as a reporter for regional newspapers covering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

While in Afghanistan, he followed closely the rise of Osama bin Laden, interviewing the late Al-qaeda leader several times during the 1980s and 1990s.

From there Khashoggi career covered other major events in the region including the first Gulf War in Kuwait.

Khashoggi later returned full-time to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s and in 1999 became deputy editor of the English- language Arab News newspaper.

Finding shows that in 2003, he became editor of the Al-Watair newspaper but was fired just two months into his tenure for publishing stories that were critical of the Saudi clerical establishment. He later moved to London and later Washington to serve as a media adviser to Ambassador Prince Turki bin Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence Chief.

Reports said that he returned to Al-Watan in 2007 but left three years later. Following the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, Khashoggi expressed support for Islamist groups that had gained power in several countries.

In 2012, he was chosen to lead the Saudi-backed Alarab News Channel touted as a rival to the Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera.

The Bahrain-based news channel stopped broadcasting less than24 hours after its launch in 2015 after inviting a prominent Bahraini opposition figure to speak.

Considered an authoritative voice on Saudi affairs, Khashoggi was a regular contributor on international news outlets.

Contending that “we Saudis deserve better,” Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the US in the summer of 2017.

In his debut in September Column for the Washington Post newspaper Khashoggi said that he and several others had gone into self-imposed exile because they feared being arrested.

According to Khashoggi, dozens of people had been detained in an apparent crack-down on dissidents under Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman who has been pioneering an ambitious economic and social reform programme in Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi alleged that the government had pressured the publisher of Arabic daily newspaper Al-Hayat to cancel his column and stop tweeting to his 1.8 million followers after he cautioned against the country’s “overly enthusiastic embrace” of then US President-elect Donald Trump in 2016.

He said: “I have at my home my family and my job and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so mean cannot,” he contended.

In the face of the controversy, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Saudi Arabia extradite the 15 suspects in Jamal Khashoggi murder.

Speaking at the just-concluded G20 meeting of industrialized countries in Argentina, Erdogan said Khashoggi issue has not featured in the talks and that only Canada’s Justin Trudeau had brought the subject up.

In the same vein, Saudi Arabia has charged 11 persons with murder, but there is no suggestion it is ready to send them to Turkey for prosecution.

However, the Crown Prince has denied he was involved in the killing.

 

By Isa Dangana

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