The Dissident review – inside track on grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi

1 month ago 11

Turkey’s president blew the gaff on how the dissident Saudi author was killed, providing plentiful material for this gripping documentary

It’s not shown in this documentary, but there is a gruesome TV news clip of Vladimir Putin high-fiving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in November 2018. This was two months after the Saudi author and dissident Jamal Khashoggi had been murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, into whose diplomatically protected precincts he had been lured to get documentation for his planned wedding to the Turkish journalist Hatice Cengiz. Some of the arms-trading western nations duly raised their plaintive and transient objections. Putin himself had no such scruples. The high-five sent a gleeful signal.

Saudi Arabia’s state assassination of Khashoggi is of a piece with the Russian-greenlit attempted murder of Sergei Skripal in the UK in March that year (which resulted in the death of a British national, Dawn Sturgess) and it had something in common with North Korea’s bizarre “prank show” killing of Kim Jong-un’s exiled half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, a year before that. The Khashoggi killing is an example of a grisly new political theatre: a nation state sending a mafioso “message” across social and mainstream media to expatriates who think they can criticise the homeland. The Saudis denied it, of course; Donald Trump, typically, accepted Bin Salman’s bland assurances that “rogue” elements had to be involved and even his successor, Joe Biden, has declined to sanction the Saudis.

But the damage was done. The one world leader who was outraged was Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, livid that his turf had been encroached on, and his security services duly released the surveillance-tape transcripts, thus casually revealing the open secret that they bug foreign embassies. These documents show in minute-by-minute detail how Khashoggi was overpowered and killed.

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