a year later, the murder of Khashoggi still haunts Crown Prince Ben Salman

The assassination of the journalist, dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, tainted the international image of the Saudi prince.

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Demonstration by Reporters Without Borders in front of the Saudi Embassy in Berlin on 1 October.
Demonstration by Reporters Without Borders in front of the Saudi Embassy in Berlin on 1 October. TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

On Wednesday, 2 October, in the early afternoon, a group of human rights activists, relatives of Jamal Khashoggi and supporters of his cause were to meet in front of the former Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The tribute rally was scheduled to start at 1:14 pm, the exact moment when, a year ago to the day, the Saudi journalist was crossing the door of the consulate to leave no room.

Jamal Khashoggi, 59, was murdered there by a commando of fifteen agents from Riyadh. He was given a lethal injection before dismembering his body, never found. The global outrage over the case, revealed by audio recordings provided by Turkish intelligence, has forced the Saudi authorities to arrest members of the killer team.

But the crown prince Mohammed Ben Salman, nicknamed "MBS", that Mr. Khashoggi criticized in the pages of the Washington Post and that many observers suspect of being the sponsor of the operation, was not worried. Neither on the international scene, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, felt that he could not afford to launch an investigation; nor internally, the number two of the kingdom, son of King Salman, having put all his rivals to the test and took control of all the security services.

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And yet, as shown by the Istanbul meeting and the series of press releases issued by human rights organizations in recent days, the excitement of the crime has not subsided. In the manner of a task that would refuse to leave his thawb, the white tunic of the Gulf men, the stigma Khashoggi continues to stick to "MBS", the prince with two faces, daring reformer in the social field and autocrat uninhibited, on the political ground.

"The sign that does not deceive is that he has not set foot in Europe or the United States during the past year", says Adam Coogle, Saudi specialist in Human Rights Watch (HRW). Western heads of state are not scrambling to visit the kingdom either. Mohammed Ben Salman met with French leaders three times during the twelve months preceding the assassination: President Emmanuel Macron in Riyadh in November 2017 and Paris in April 2018 and Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly in Riyadh in July 2018 He did not see a single one in the following twelve months, with the exception of a brief aside, on November 30, 2018, at the G20 in Buenos Aires, with the head of state, who had lectured him theatrically, under the eyes of the cameras.


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