It happens occasionally: When you are getting ready for writing on a particular topic, you encounter some other aspects of that topic that you didn’t know at all.
During my preparation for writing about the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by government agents of his own country in Istanbul with the occasion of the first anniversary of the killing, I’ve come across another Arab journalist named Hassan Hassan.
Let me first share the latest piece of information about the murder of Khashoggi: The Saudi Arabian daily Okaz reports that trial of the individuals from the assassination team, caught nearly red-handed, keeps going with eight completed hearings. The daily informs its readers that representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as well as one representative of Turkey have been present in all of the hearings, besides family members of the decedent.
The representative of Turkey must be sending his notes to the Turkish capital, Ankara. So, we can expect that Ankara would soon inform us about course of events concerning the trial, even if Saudi authorities chose not to reveal any substantial information.
The region seems gripped by fear
Media have kept the topic of the killing alive all over the world through comprehensive writings and TV programs on the first anniversary of the murder. An American television channel (PBS) assigned one reporter exclusively to this matter. We learn that the reporter carried out interviews before cameras with almost anyone closely related to the topic, and traveled to Riyadh scores of times to question a good number of officials, including Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
I was taken aback when I watched how Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, fooled himself in an desperate attempt to advocate MbS, and how Prince Faisal bin Turki, once the Saudi ambassador in London and Washington as well as the former head of Saudi Arabia’s Intelligence Service (1977-2001) went all round the houses to avoid harsh questions.
Only fear would get these people acted in this way.
Consider this just as an example: Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of the Saudi Royal Family, the richest man of the country, was kept under surveillance in a hotel room during 82 days. He was freed only after he grudgingly accepted seizure of a good portion of his wealth. The journalist from the PBS’s program named ‘Frontline’ who undertook the task of investigating the murder of Khashoggi interviewed Al-Waleed bin Talal, too.
Let me be content with only saying that Prince Al-Waleed’s fear is still alive.
Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince colloquially known as MbS, ultimately accepted his responsibility in the murder of Khashoggi due to the fact that the members of the execution team who traveled to Istanbul were his right hands, while still denied having ordered the murder. He couldn’t help but admit his responsibility in ‘60 Minutes’, a television program broadcasted by another American television channel.
Khashoggi’s quest for setting up independent media
As a journalist, it is my responsibility to keep the topic of this brutal killing of the Saudi journalist alive by writing on it on the first anniversary of the killing.
We all have this responsibility.
Jeff Bezos, the boss of Washington Post (owner of Amazon as well) where Khashoggi wrote before he was killed, traveled to Istanbul to attend the memorial ceremony.
I consider this important, too.
Now we learn that Khashoggi had plans right before he got killed for setting up independent media that would be oriented to the region by organizing Arab journalists who were marginalized like himself.
This is the latest piece of information regarding the journalist’s killing. Khashoggi says in a message sent to Hassan Hassan, a journalist with Syrian origin living in the USA: “Maybe we should start our own media outlet, but how can we do that independently? With no money from Qatar or the UAE?”
Qatar and the UAE are two countries in the region with tense, occasionally hostile relations with one another. How could a daily be published, or a TV channel be established without financial aid of these countries?
It is obvious that Khashoggi was in preparation for setting up independent media if the challenge of financial resources could be overcome…
This intent may be the motive behind his murder. Independent media for the Middle East? It is hard to imagine. . .
When I was glancing over several resources as a preparatory work for my piece on Khashoggi’s killing, what have happened to Hassan Hassan in recent months sparked my interest.
Hassan contributed to ‘The National’, a UAE daily with commentaries on weekly basis during seven years. One day he was told out of the blue: “We aren’t willing to publish your pieces any longer.” What was his ‘crime’, you would guess? It was a piece that he wrote for Foreign Policy Magazine where he argued that the embargo imposed on Qatar by the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE made Qatar even stronger.
Hassan lives in the USA, and writes in ‘Atlantic’, a prestigious magazine. Besides, The George Washington University (GWU) provides him an academic post in one of its programs.
Quite impressive, isn’t it? He writes for a prestigious magazine, has academic links to an important American university…
But his piece on his friend Khashoggi’s murder in Atlantic upsets the American university which is probably in a ‘dependent’ relation with the UAE.
He is forced to leave the university…
And this takes place in the USA…
Sharing all these experiences of him with his audience, Hassan writes this in capital letters after reminding Khashoggi’s will and testament in the Saudi journalist’s message to him about setting up an independent media outlet: “I AM WORKING ON THIS.”
What he needs to do is what journalists in our country are doing today: embarking on journalistic activities on Internet.
Luckily, we have new information and communication technologies, which makes independent journalism possible…
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on October 4, 2019]