Zoe Griffin | Local & World Editor
Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was seen Oct. 2 entering the main entrance of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The purpose of his visit to the consulate was to collect the legal papers that needed to be filed before he married his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, the Associated Press reported, but Khashoggi was never seen leaving the building. Khashoggi wrote pieces that criticized Saudi Arabia’s policies and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Outside the consulate, Cengiz waited for him for hours. It did not take long for the public to become aware of Khashoggi’s disappearance, although Saudi Arabia reported that Khashoggi entered their Consulate and left within the hour. Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg News that they have nothing to hide regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Upon his disappearance Turkish officials suspected Khashoggi had not vanished but had been killed. Turkish intelligence agency MIT reviewed an audio feed that suggests Khashoggi hadn’t just disappeared—he had been violently tortured and killed following his entrance into the consulate. Turkish officials reported to CNN that Khashoggi’s body had been dismembered.
“It’s extremely frightening as a journalism major to think that the international world is unsafe for journalists, especially since President Trump openly despises the journalists’ pursuit of the truth. I’m scared for us all,” said Lea Luellen, a junior journalism major.
Surveillance footage revealed that Saudi intelligence officer Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb was present outside the Saudi Consulate, arriving at the airport only moments before a plane was scheduled to travel to Riyadh.
Mutreb is believed to have played a vital role in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
After days of denying Khashoggi was murdered, Saudi Arabia has now revealed that Khashoggi died in a chokehold during a fistfight at the consulate, CNN reported Oct. 24. Trump said Saudi Arabia’s responses to Khashoggi’s death were “all over the place,” but he continued to compliment bin Salman, referring to him as a “strong person” who has a good amount of control.
Hampton University journalism majors speak frequently about this developing news story as they fear for their own lives as journalists who may one day travel internationally.
“This whole situation is very morbid and completely rubs me the wrong way,” said Brandi Hutchison, a journalism major at Hampton. “The fact that the president is talking in circles while trying to maintain his relationship with Saudi Arabia instead of actually trying to get justice and uncover what really happened behind the doors of the consulate is so odd.”
Trump said to the Washington Post that “obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” when asked about Saudi Arabia’s responses to Khashoggi’s death. Trump still remains supportive of the crown prince’s leadership and continues to remain cordial because of the importance of economic connections between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
How Saudi Arabia went from complete denial to revealing Khashoggi died in the Consulate to releasing specifics regarding Khashoggi’s last few hours remains unclear.
“I just want to pray for his family; I know that my family would be completely heartbroken if I went into a government building in another country and never made it out,” said Hampton University junior political science major Jeremiah Smith. “We will never know what Khashoggi’s final hours were like, and I just pray that his fiancée and loved ones can make it through this huge tragedy.”