Washington D.C, February 7, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists held a press conference this morning in front of the White House to demand accountability in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, one day before the February 8 deadline for the Trump administration to deliver a report to the Senate on its findings on the murder.
The event was the culmination of CPJ’s #JusticeForJamal campaign, in which hundreds of people around the world honored Khashoggi by sharing messages on postcards and social media about why journalism matters to them. Those gathered called on the administration to share information on Khashoggi’s murder, which the CIA concluded was likely ordered by the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“The most chilling message sent by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is that no one is safe from Saudi Arabia’s brutal reach. The U.S. Congress has rightfully condemned the murder and asked for answers from the Trump administration, which has insisted on doubling down on the ‘special’ relationship with the repressive kingdom and discounted the findings of his own intelligence agency,” said Courtney Radsch, CPJ’s advocacy director. “The Trump administration has until midnight tomorrow to come to terms with the fact that the world’s outrage on Khashoggi is real and get behind bipartisan efforts for accountability. The U.S. cannot stand passively on this case, and must draw the line and send a united message to Saudi Arabia.”
On October 10, the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the 115th session of Congress–then-Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Bob Menendez (R-NJ)–sent a letter to President Trump triggering the Global Magnitsky Act requiring the administration to respond within 120 days with a report detailing responsibility for Khashoggi’s death, and whether it will impose sanctions.
“The sad truth is, Jamal Khashoggi is not alone in suffering injustice. More than a dozen Saudi journalists sit behind bars today, and journalists in Yemen continue to suffer under Saudi-led airstrikes financed by the U.S.,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “A strong response from the administration to Congress would send a message to the Saudi government that acts such as the murder of Jamal Khashoggi will not be tolerated and that they will be met with a full measure of justice.”
CPJ also sent a joint statement today with Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Justice Initiative, PEN America, and Reporters Without Borders to the White House and the U.S. Congress expressing concern about the lack of transparency and accountability in Khashoggi’s murder as well as Saudi Arabia’s persecution of other journalists and dissidents.
Saudi Arabia has continued to crack down on the press, with CPJ documenting at least 16 journalists behind bars as of December 1, 2018; 12 of those have been jailed since Crown Prince Salman rose to power.
Video from the event is available here and can be used with credit to Committee to Protect Journalists