Saudis banned Khashoggi for criticizing Trump: Report
WASHINGTON - Anadolu Agency
Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi was barred from media appearances after criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump in late 2016, according to the State Department.
In its most recent report on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, the department said Khashoggi moved to the U.S. in "self-exile" in September 2017 and "could face arrest upon returning home" due to his writings.
The report said Khashoggi's column in Saudi newspaper al-Hayat had been cancelled under political pressure.
“In 2016, authorities purportedly banned him from writing, appearing on television and attending conferences as the result of remarks he made that were interpreted as criticizing the president of the United States, according to multiple media sources.
"Earlier, in July, authorities reportedly lifted the writing ban against him," said the report.
The ban came after Khashoggi appeared at a policy forum at think tank The Washington Institute on Nov. 10, 2016 and made remarks critical of Trump’s Middle East policies, describing Trump's stance on the Middle East as "contradictory".
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After initially saying he left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration admitted weeks later that he was killed there.
His body has yet to be returned to his family amid reports that it was chemically dissolved.
Turkish police find hydrofluoric acid at Saudi consul’s home after Khashoggi killing: Report
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Wednesday that calls for the crown prince to be held accountable for the grisly killing would not be tolerated.
"In Saudi Arabia our leadership is a red line. The custodian of the two holy mosques (King Salman) and the crown prince are a red line," Jubeir told the BBC.
"They represent every Saudi citizen and every Saudi citizen represents them. And we will not tolerate any discussion of anything that is disparaging towards our monarch or our crown prince."
In a statement Tuesday, Trump defended relations with Saudi Arabia despite the killing of the journalist amid reports that the CIA had concluded with high confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's murder.
However, the president said the U.S. may "never know all of the facts" and the country will continue its relations with Saudi Arabia in order to pursue American interests.
"Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event ? maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!" Trump said in the statement, which was released by the White House.
Trump defies calls to punish Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi's death