On October 2, 2018, Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Since that day, CPJ has been at the forefront of global efforts to secure transparency, accountability, and justice for Khashoggi’s murder. Our efforts continue today.
The CIA reportedly concluded with high confidence—and the U.S. Senate unanimously voted—that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. It has also been widely reported that the U.S. intelligence community was aware of threats to Khashoggi’s life prior to his murder, some directly from Salman himself.
In response to reports of threats to Khashoggi’s life, CPJ filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking documents regarding Khashoggi’s murder and the intelligence’s community “duty to warn” obligations. These requests were ignored. CPJ is now leading a widely supported lawsuit, filed in July 2020, asking courts to order the release of those documents.
In 2018, members of Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump triggering a provision of the Global Magnitsky Act that required the administration to provide a report detailing responsibility for Khashoggi’s death, and whether it would impose sanctions. The administration ignored this request. In 2019, Congress passed a defense funding bill, later signed into law by President Trump, which included an amendment supported by CPJ requiring the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to send legislative bodies an unclassified report on Khashoggi’s murder. The report was sent to Congress a month late, and was heavily redacted. The bulk of it was classified. CPJ continues to push for release of this report.
At the United Nations, a comprehensive report by Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, concluded in June 2019 that the murder constituted six violations of international law and that “[Khashoggi’s] killing was the result of elaborate planning involving extensive coordination and significant human and financial resources.” CPJ continues to work with bodies around the world to secure justice.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, the regime continues its decades-long repression of the media.
Khashoggi’s murder has broad repercussions for journalists not only in Saudi Arabia but around the world. CPJ will continue to research and report on attacks on journalists in Saudi Arabia, advocate for the release of journalists imprisoned there, and highlight the deadly impact of U.S.-backed Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, including at least seven journalists killed in the airstrikes. The pursuit of justice is far from over and we will hold the Saudi government accountable for its press freedom violations.
There is no one path to getting justice for Jamal. Therefore CPJ is urging the UN Secretary General to conduct an independent criminal investigation; leading a widely supported lawsuit asking U.S. courts to order the U.S. intelligence community to release documents that provide information on its awareness of threats to Khashoggi’s life; asking Congress to ensure transparency and accountability; and telling the private sector and tech industry that there can be no business as usual with Saudi Arabia until there is justice for Jamal.
CPJ’s campaign to honor Jamal prompted people around the world to share why they need journalism on postcards and social media using the hashtag #JusticeForJamal. On February 20, 2019, we took these signs to the steps of the White House during a press conference at which we called on the Trump administration to meet a deadline to deliver a report to Congress detailing its findings on Jamal’s murder. The Trump administration failed to do so.
Op-eds and Analysis
- The Khashoggi report is a wake-up call for UN and US
- US must do more if justice is to prevail for slain journalist
- Saudi Arabia’s violence against journalists unsettling
- Why US intelligence should release any Khashoggi files
- Trump administration must pursue investigation into Khashoggi case
- National Press Club panel on human rights sanctions and journalists