National Press Club

National Press Club wants answers on missing Saudi journalist

October 5, 2018 | By John Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

National Press Club leaders called on Saudi Arabian authorities to explain the whereabouts of a Saudi journalist who visited that country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 3 and never emerged.

Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and a former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, has been in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017. He has been outspoken in his criticism of the Saudi government.

Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia citing Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's crackdown on even mildly critical journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented growing censorship in Saudi Arabia and numerous cases of Saudi reporters being seized by authorities, including one man who was taken away as he visited his five-year-old son in the hospital.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 3 to process paperwork for his coming marriage. His fiancee waited outside for hours, but Khashoggi never came out.

Since then, Saudi authorities have denied knowing his whereabouts. But Reuters reported this week that Khashoggi was still in the consulate, citing Turkish officials.

"While Saudi Arabia is moving forward in many ways, its treatment of some reporters has been moving backwards, paradoxically, towards repression," said Andrea Edney, president of the National Press Club. "We call on Saudi Arabia to release Khashoggi and any other journalists who have been detained because of their coverage. A healthy society requires a free press."

"If Saudi authorities have in fact captured Khashoggi because he has written critically about the Saudi government, that is unconscionable," said Barbara Cochran, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the club's non-profit arm. "It is a violation of his human rights and a step backward for Saudi Arabia."

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. It has more than 3,100 members worldwide. The Club supports press freedom through its nonprofit National Press Club Journalism Institute.

Contact: NPC Press Freedom Chairman John M. Donnelly, jdonnelly@cq.com, 202 650 6738