ISTANBUL (AA) – Despite his demise at the hands of Saudi agents last year, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has become an icon for freedom-seekers around the world.
Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2, 2018, in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts after he went missing but later attempted to blame his death on a team of rogue operatives carrying out a botched rendition operation and put 11 men on trial.
According to reports by the UN and other independent organizations, he was murdered and dismembered. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accepted responsibility for the killing, but denied ordering Khashoggi’s murder.
The killing has sparked international outcry with the UN calling for an investigation into the role of bin Salman in carrying out the operation. Khashoggi’s remains have not yet been found.
“Khashoggi was an important episode in the Gulf and Arab struggle [for freedom],” prominent Egyptian journalist Fahmy Huwaidi told Anadolu Agency.
“Since his emergence, Khashoggi was part of renaissance phenomenon in a region that has always been closed,” he said. “His death has come to push this phenomenon forward.”
Born in 1958 in the holy city of Medina, Khashoggi received his elementary and secondary education in Saudi Arabia and obtained a BBA degree from Indiana State University in the U.S. in 1982.
A father of four, Khashoggi worked in several Saudi newspapers. He was one of a few journalists, who made a rare interview with former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
In 2017, he fled Saudi Arabia and went into self-imposed exile and became a vocal critic of the Saudi policies until his death last year.
For Huwaidi, Khashoggi “will remain an important part of transformations that could happen in the Gulf and Arab society”.
Prominent Egyptian thinker Jamal Sultan described Khashoggi’s murder as “an earthquake”
In an article, Sultan said the Saudi journalist’s killing “was like an earthquake that shook the world with his name and photo dominating headlines and televisions around the world".
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), described Khashoggi’s death as a “tragedy”.
“Silver lining in #Khashoggi tragedy is that it showed that human life still matters. Hope we can build on this to create a global mindset where every life everywhere matters,” he said on Twitter.
Prominent British journalist David Hearst, for his part, said in an article a few months back that Khashoggi’s killing has changed Saudi Arabia forever.
"In the six months since he died, he has achieved more to change the image of the ruling elite and ultimately lay the foundation for real reforms and public debate about how it is governed than he achieved in the 59 years of his life,” Hearst wrote.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post said on Saturday that the death of Khashoggi has made the Saudi crown prince a “pariah”.
The U.S. newspaper said world leaders’ embrace of bin Salman during the annual G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June “was a clear signal that the young prince, who the CIA, U.S. allies and a United Nations investigator say is responsible for the savage killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was being welcomed back, if reluctantly, into the community of nations. And it wouldn't have been possible without the support of (U.S. President Donald) Trump and his secretary of State, Mike Pompeo."
On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to continue its efforts to shed light on Khashoggi’s murder.
Writing an article in The Washington Post, Erdogan said Turkey would continue pressing for the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains and the identities of those responsible.
Underlining that many questions remained unanswered about the court proceedings in Saudi Arabia, he said: "The near-complete lack of transparency surrounding the trial, the lack of public access to hearings and the allegation that some of Khashoggi’s murderers enjoy de facto freedom fail to meet the international community’s expectations and tarnish the image of Saudi Arabia — something that Turkey, as its friend and ally, does not desire."
Erdogan described the Khashoggi's murder as "arguably the most influential and controversial incident of the 21st century, barring the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."
*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara