Saudi national and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018.
Twenty Saudi nationals have been indicted by the Istanbul prosecutor’s office, of being involved in the killing of the journalist, who often criticised Saudi royalty.
The murder tarnished the Kingdom’s image in the rest of the world. It particularly affected crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s image. The country after long-maintaining silence on the crime came out and denied any role in Khashoggi’s murder.
Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Mohammed bin Salman himself had ordered the killing. According to the Istanbul prosecutor’s office, the indictment accuses former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani as having “instigated premeditated murder with monstrous intent”. Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to this.
After months of silence on the matter and denying that he had any role in Khashoggi’s murder, in September 2019, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that as the murder took place under his watch and that he bears responsibility for it. The controversy around Khashoggi’s murder brought some damage to the prince’s ambitions to diversify Saudi’s economy and to change the image of the cloistered Saudi society.
A Saudi court, in December 2019, sentenced five people to death and three to jail over Khashoggi’s murder. But, a Saudi prosecutor had said that there was no evidence connecting Qahtani to the killing and the court dismissed charges against Asiri.
Prosecutors from the Istanbul prosecutor’s office seek life sentences for 18 the 20 involved in Khashoggi’s murder, while two of them were charged with “incitement to first-degree murder.”