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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Expert Reacts to ODNI Report on Jamal Khashoggi's Murder


Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a US organization founded by Khashoggi shortly before his murder, which is currently party to several lawsuits connected to his murder:

“The DNI’s report today reveals what we have long known to be true: Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the execution of Jamal Khashoggi. President Biden should now fulfill his promise to hold MBS accountable for this murder by, at minimum, imposing the same sanctions on him as those imposed on his underling culprits and ending the weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia that would be controlled by an unelected, brutal murderer.”

“Sanctions against MBS should include a freeze of his personal assets, as well as corporate assets in the U.S. that he controls as a member or chairman of the board. A mere travel ban would serve as less than a slap on the wrist, as MBS has already been effectively banned from coming to the US given the lawsuits he faces and seeks to avoid.”

“No government can justify another dollar in arms sales to the Saudi government with the knowledge that they will be controlled by a reckless, sadistic murderer. America’s own laws demand nothing less than ending sales and transfers of the world’s most dangerous weapons to Saudi Arabia as long as MBS remains its Defense Minister and de facto ruler.”

Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the Open Society Justice Initiative and counsel in Open Society Justice Initiative v. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, et al, a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking release of the ODNI report:

“We welcome the Biden administration’s release of this long-awaited report. This is an important step forward.  To ensure full accountability, the U.S. government needs to disclose numerous other records about the murder and its cover-up that it has withheld from the public in our litigation.  It also needs to hold the Saudi government and the Crown Prince accountable, including by imposing sanctions on him.” 

“The U.S. government still needs to disclose numerous other records about the murder and its cover-up that it has withheld from the public in Open Society’s litigation.”

Iyad el-Baghdadi, human rights activist and president of Kawaakibi Foundation, who was targeted by a Saudi ‘kill team’ after criticizing the regime and working with Jamal Khashoggi:

“What does justice for Jamal look like? There are many proposals aimed at punishing MBS. This is welcome, but amidst the drive to make MBS pay for his crime, we should not forget to centre the victim, what he loved, and what he gave his life for. Jamal was killed for raising his voice in dissent, calling for freedom of speech for Saudis, and championing democracy for the Arab world. We strongly believe that to do his legacy justice, the Biden’s administration response must champion these values.

“In addition to other measures, we hope to see the US, as Saudi Arabia’s most important Western ally, pressure MBS to release prisoners of conscience, lift travel bans, and stop all crackdowns on free expression. The best check on the dictatorship that MBS represents is to support strong societies and a vibrant public sphere, in which natives can call their own leaders to account and act as a check on their excesses.

“Jamal knew that if people are allowed to speak freely, they will liberate themselves. For the sake of our fallen friend, keep free speech at the top of the agenda.”

Hala Al-Dosari, award-winning Saudi activist and Washington Post’s first Jamal Khashoggi fellow, who joined with fellow Saudi activists and intellectuals to launch “A People’s Vision for Reform in Saudi Arabia,” a democratic rejoinder to MBS’ Vision 2030:

“Saudis are sadly all too familiar with the brazen brutality of MBS and the authoritarian system that has incubated and produced him. We also know that MBS is not Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia is not MBS.

“Today’s report release offers another tragic but unsurprising reminder of the cruelty and injustice of this illiberal system and its favored son. 

“I continue to stand with my fellow Saudis in calling on MBS to release all political prisoners and establish a clear path towards rule of law and public representation at all levels, in line with the People’s Vision for Reform in Saudi Arabia.

“Furthermore, I urge the US to ensure that justice for Jamal advances transparently and to its full conclusion, including by holding an open congressional open hearing based in part on this report, to investigate MBS's role in the killing, and then to apply Magnitsky-style sanctions on all individuals involved. There cannot be a shortcut, as it risks denying Saudis the transparent justice they deserve to see for their ruler or, on the other hand, punishing the people for the sins of its anti-democratic ruling class.”

Alaa Al Siddiq, executive director of ALQST, a Saudi-led human rights group based in the UK:

“This US intelligence report is expected to provide further evidence on what has been concluded by others including UN Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard- that the Khashoggi murder implicates Saudi Arabia’s highest level officials, including the country's de-facto leader Mohammed bin Salman. 

“This highlights the need for the international community, including at the UK and EU levels, to extend existing sanction regimes to all individuals responsible for the murder and subsequent cover-up, including the Crown Prince himself. Furthermore, and following the denial of justice in the Saudi courts, it should spark renewed calls for further paths to justice, including an international criminal investigation. ALQST also remains deeply concerned about the countless Saudis –including human rights activists and advocates of reform— whom the authorities continue to threaten, detain and torture for exercising the same right of free expression for which Jamal was killed.”

Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni Nobel peace laureate and friend of Khashoggi who was living in Turkey at the time of his murder:

“The publication of the US intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, by President Biden’s administration should be a benchmark in the US policy towards Middle East affairs, especially with regard to human rights and public freedoms issues. But publication of the report will not be meaningful unless it includes clear measures against the planners and perpetrators of the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.

“What the Biden administration should realize is that the murder of Khashoggi is part of a policy of eliminating free-minded people by cruel and inhumane methods. This reckless policy must be confronted firmly and must be subject to international accountability.

“Issuing the report should be followed by a fair trial for everyone involved in the murder and cover-up of Jamal Khashoggi. They must not escape prosecution, accountability and punishment. Jamal Khashoggi was a resident of America and a writer for one of the most prominent newspapers published in the United States of America. Protecting him was the duty of the US administration. Having not done so, the trial and prosecution of his assassins must now be among its most pressing duties.”

Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward, which has led high-profile advocacy efforts to boycott and isolate MBS and the Saudi regime until its widespread human rights abuses are addressed:

"The evidence is clear now that Mohammed bin Salman used the vast apparatus of the Saudi state to murder Jamal Khashoggi, including airplanes owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. There is no way for the US or Western companies to continue dancing with this brutal dictator and his state wealth."

"As brutal and reckless as MBS is, it's important to remember that he is a product of a Saudi system of government that amounts to a violent game of thrones.  The Saud ruling system that produced MBS has created vast levels of suffering and death, from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to the Saudi  bombardment of thousands of civilians in Yemen. Even without MBS in power, that same brutal system of government remains."

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