- “Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,” Turkish media quoted Nour as telling the court.
- “Noor said Khashoggi had reported being threatened by Saud al-Qahtani since 2016,” Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders tweeted from the courtroom.
- Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and its botched cover-up, earned Riyadh international scorn.
A friend of Jamal Khashoggi said today that the Saudi journalist received threats from an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Twenty Saudis, including two relatives of MBS, are on trial in absentia in Istanbul for the assassination of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
The second hearing in the trial took place today. While giving his witness account, Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political dissident and longtime friend of Khashoggi, said the late journalist had been threatened by Saud al-Qahtani, a former adviser to the Crown Prince, who is among the accused, according to local media reports.
“Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,” Turkish media quoted Nour as telling the court.
“Noor said Khashoggi had reported being threatened by Saud al-Qahtani since 2016,” Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders 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.”
Khashoggi, 59, had become a dissident of the regime when he was assassinated. He was accused of links to the Muslim Brotherhood, and hated by Riyadh. His assassination plunged Saudi Arabia into one of the worst diplomatic crises in its history, and tarnished the prestige of MBS.
The Saudi government claims that Khashoggi was killed in an unauthorized operation, but Turkish and US officials believe the murder could not have been carried out without MBS’ approval. A non-transparent trial in Saudi Arabia ordered five people to be sentenced to death, but in September those sentences were commuted to 20 years in prison.
Relations between the regional rivals, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have also deteriorated considerably since the journalist’s assassination. Against this background of tensions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia had a rare telephone conversation on Saturday before a virtual G20 summit.
The Istanbul trial began in July, and Turkish prosecutors presented Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Assiri, a former Saudi Arabian intelligence department second in command, as the key perpetrators of the crime.
UN Accuses MBS
Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and its botched cover-up, earned Riyadh international scorn. The CIA has concluded that MBS, the Kingdom’s de facto leader, was most likely the chief architect of the foul murder.
In reaction to the murder, Agnes Callamard, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said at one point, “it is not only a question of who ordered the killing.”
“Criminal responsibility can be derived from direct and indirect incitement, or the failure to prevent and protect,” she added.
The investigator lamented that the Saudi authorities refused to grant her permission to visit the country to pursue her independent inquiry.
MBS has, however, maintained his innocence, and says that he didn’t have any thing to do with the journalist’s murder. The prince told CBS News that though he didn’t order the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, he accepted “full responsibility” for the “heinous crime.”