It took the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 17 days to confirm the death of a journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen and U.S. resident who entered the embassy and went “missing” for over two weeks according to the Saudi government. Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia claims Khashoggi was killed in a fist fight inside the consulate, despite video and audio footage suggesting Khashoggi was tortured to death and eventually dismembered.The fact it took them over two weeks to even confirm his death shows they were maneuvering to make it look like an accident instead of a murder.
New video footage has emerged showing a Saudi operative posing as a body double dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes leaving the consulate. This is an obvious cover up by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman silencing a critic of his regime. The body was most likely removed by the Saudi operatives from the consulate to conceal evidence, but Turkish police are still investigating.
The Saudi government is absolutely responsible for this atrocity and should be held responsible for murdering a journalist. Journalism and the right to a free press are essential in order to hold tyrannical governments responsible for illegal actions they take.
President Donald Trump suggested ‘rogue killers’ could have been behind the murder and is opposed to placing sanctions on Saudi Arabia due to a pending arms deal. The most effective way to punish Saudi Arabia for this atrocity is to impose sanctions on them.
The fact our president chooses to turn a blind eye to the murder of a journalist in order to preserve an arms deal with a country notorious for humans rights violations shows how backward our foreign policy is.
Trump has repeatedly said reporters are "enemies of the people" and deserve little protection. Last Thursday at a rally in Montana he said, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” regarding Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Montana, body-slamming a reporter.
Encouraging violence against journalists is dangerous and the exact opposite of what our country needs right now. Trump turning a blind eye to this brutal murder is dangerous for journalists everywhere.
On Tuesday Khashoggi’s son, Salah, was made to shake hands with the Crown Prince, the alleged organizer of his father’s murder. This meeting must have been a very difficult task for Salah, as his father’s body remains to be found and the likely perpetrators are lying to his face.
Saudi State TV also announced the dismissal of five government officials, as well as the arrests of 18 other individuals. The Crown Prince has most likely lined up scapegoats to shift the blame of the murder away from himself.
Trump now says Khashoggi's murder is the "worst cover-up ever" and suggested Saudi royals, including the crown prince, could have had roles in the murder. This response does not align with his response last week, but Trump changing his story is nothing new.
The murder and coverup of Khashoggi’s brutal murder is a tragedy and shows the importance of freedom of speech and the right to a free press. If a journalist was tortured and murdered in our country, I hope the president’s reaction would be different.
Max Nedanovich is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Mandeville, Louisiana.