Saudi official threatened Jamal Khashoggi and his children before the journalist was brutally murdered
Khashoggi, 59, was suffocated and dismembered by people close to Mohammed bin Salman, Turkish court hears
Ayman Nour, a longtime friend of Khashoggi said the slain journalist broke down as he confided that he felt threatened
‘Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,’ Nour told the court
Main court in Istanbul held a second hearing in the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects in the high-profile murder of the Washington Post columnist
A close friend of slain Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, has told a Turkish court on Tuesday that the slain Saudi journalist felt threatened by people close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The main court in Istanbul held a second hearing in the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects in the Washington Post columnist’s high-profile murder — including two former aides to the powerful Saudi crown prince.
The 59-year-old US resident was suffocated and dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018 after going inside to get documents for his marriage to Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz.
The murder sparked an international outcry and since tarnished the reputation of the oil-rich kingdom and the crown prince.
Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political dissident and longtime friend of Khashoggi, told the court that the self-exiled journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar.
‘Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,’ Turkish media quoted Nour as telling the court.
‘Nour said Khashoggi had reported being threatened by Saud al-Qahtani since 2016,’ Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) separately tweeted from the courtroom.
‘Khashoggi spoke of a phone call from Qahtani when he was living in Washington DC, saying he knew his kids and where they lived. Nour said Khashoggi was crying, which was unusual, and said he was afraid.’
Turkey is holding a trial, separate from a Saudi trial that overturned five death sentences issued after a closed-door hearing in September.
The Riyadh court instead jailed eight unidentified people for terms ranging from seven to 20 years in what Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) both called a ‘parody of justice’.
Few in the international community believed that justice had been meted to the those who orchestrated the grisly execution of Khashoggi inside a government property, no less. The CIA has said that the Saudi Crown Prince ordered the Khashoggi murder in 2018
Turkish prosecutors have charged Saudi’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s one-time media czar Saud al-Qahtani with orchestrating the murder and giving direct orders to a Saudi hit team.
in Dec. 2018, the prosecutor’s office concluded that there is “strong suspicion” that Ahmed al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, who were both removed from their positions following the murder, were among the planners of the murder.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz also attended Tuesday’s hearing, which was adjourned to March 4.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said he believes the order to murder Khashoggi came from ‘the highest levels’ of the Saudi government, but has never directly blamed Prince Mohammed.
Relations between the two countries suffered in the wake of Khashoggi’s death. But Erdogan discussed ways to enhance ties with the prince’s ageing father King Salman on the eve of last weekend’s virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish trial is monitored closely by human rights advocates.
Vincent said the Istanbul court rejected RSF’s application to become a civil party in the Khashoggi’s case.
This would have given the Paris-based group broader access to court documents.
‘We were disappointed,’ Vincent told AFP, calling it ‘a missed opportunity to ensure robust international scrutiny.’
‘But regardless we will continue to closely monitor this case and call for adherence to international standards,’ she said.