The Saudis Need to Release Jamal Khashoggi
The Turkish government is confident that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is being held inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul:
Turkish authorities were convinced that Jamal Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi government under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was being held in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than 24 hours after he entered, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
“We are 100% certain he’s inside,” one of the people said, adding that Turkish officials were in contact with their Saudi counterparts to secure his release.
Saudi officials have denied that Mr. Khashoggi was still there, but like other official denials from their government this one lacks credibility. If he had left the consulate as the Saudis claim, he would have surely made contact with his fiancee and friends by now. The only explanation that makes any sense is that he is being held in the consulate against his will, and we have to assume that he is being detained solely because of his criticism of the Saudi government. If the Saudis hoped to make one of the government’s critics vanish without drawing attention to themselves, they have failed spectacularly. They have not only unjustly detained a high-profile critic, but they have done so in a way that guaranteed that it would become a major story.
Mr. Khashoggi’s colleagues at The Washington Post have naturally been following the story very closely. Karen Attiah writes:
Jamal is one of the leading proponents of freedom and democratic change throughout the region, and he frequently denounces the harsh tactics deployed by the Saudi authorities against prominent clerics, business owners, female activists and social media figures. I ask him from time to time if he is okay, if he is feeling safe. He has insisted on feeling the need to write, despite the pressures from the Saudi authorities. For all the pieces that he has written to bring awareness to the plight of those who were improperly detained, today I am saddened to plead for his safe and swift return.
Mohammed bin Salman has made a habit of taking reckless and heavy-handed actions without thinking through the consequences, and this appears to fit that pattern. Detaining Mr. Khashoggi both highlights the increasingly repressive nature of the Saudi government and threatens to strain relations with Turkey further. His detention is an outrage that will continue to draw international scrutiny and condemnation until it ends. The Saudi government should release Jamal Khashoggi at once.