WASHINGTON: The children of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have received multimillion-dollar homes and are being paid thousands of dollars per month by the kingdom’s authorities, The Washington Post reported Monday. Khashoggi-a contributor to the Post and a critic of the Saudi government-was killed and dismembered in October at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has not been recovered.
The payments to his four children-two sons and two daughters-“are part of an effort by Saudi Arabia to reach a long-term arrangement with Khashoggi family members, aimed in part at ensuring that they continue to show restraint in their public statements,” the Post said. The houses given to the Khashoggi children are located in the port city of Jeddah and are worth up to $4 million, the newspaper reported. Salah, the eldest of the children, plans to continue living in the kingdom, while the others, who live in the United States, are expected to sell the homes, the paper said.
In addition to the properties, the children are receiving $10,000 or more per month and may also receive larger payments that could amount to tens of millions of dollars each, according to the report. Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been accused of orchestrating Khashoggi’s killing, but the kingdom has claimed that the prince was not involved. Saudi Arabia initially said it had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate but later blamed rogue agents for his death. Its public prosecutor has charged 11 people over his murder.
Pakistan probes photo
In another development, Pakistan’s interior ministry ordered investigations into six journalists who had posted pictures online of murdered Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said. RSF said it was “appalled” to learn of the investigations, adding that it “condemns this latest case of intimidation, especially given the Pakistani police’s past behavior towards dissident journalists”.
The investigations had been ordered in a letter dated March 13 from the cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency, part of the interior ministry, the group said in a statement. AFP has been unable to independently verify the letter, which has been widely circulated on social media, and Pakistani officials have not responded to requests for comment.
According to RSF, the FIA letter named the journalists as part of what it called “a targeted social media campaign” against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during his visit to Pakistan in February. The campaign consisted of “repeatedly posting photos of Jamal Khashoggi…. throughout the crown prince’s visit”, the watchdog said. The visit came five months after the crown prince came under intense pressure following the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi had been a fierce critic of the prince, and his killing ignited a diplomatic crisis.
Pakistan, long allied with Saudi Arabia, was seeking much-needed investment during the visit. The letter said posting Khashoggi’s pictures online “conveyed a very disrespectful message” towards the visiting crown prince. Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said: “This kind of harassment of journalists, whose only crime is posting content online that displeases the authorities, is symptomatic of the treatment that the Pakistani political establishment reserves for dissidents.”
“The six journalists targeted by these investigations by the FIA are known for being outspoken on social networks, which are now the only place where they can express themselves freely,” he added. Pakistan routinely ranks among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers. Coverage critical of the country’s powerful military is considered a red flag, with reporters at times detained, beaten and even killed for running afoul of the security establishment. During his visit to Islamabad, the Saudi crown prince ending up signing investment deals worth up to $20 billion. – Agencies