- Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir addressed the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a forum in Bahrain.
- He attacked “hysteria” in the reporting of what happened to Khashoggi, who was invited into a Saudi consulate in Istanbul then killed.
- Al-Jubeir said that critics should wait for Saudi Arabia to finish their investigation before blaming anybody.
- Khashoggi was killed on October 2, and Saudi has so far offered shifting and incomplete explanations for what happened.
- The kingdom claims that the killing was a rogue operation.
The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia has characterised the global outrage in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “fairly hysterical.”
Adel al-Jubeir told a security forum hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Bahrain that people were blaming Saudi Arabia prematurely. (Footage of his speech is hosted on this page.)
Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, at the start of October.
Al-Jubeir said critics should wait for the Saudi investigation to publish its conclusions rather than blaming the kingdom “from the get-go.”
“This issue has become fairly hysterical. I think people have assigned blame on Saudi Arabia with such certainty before the investigation is complete.
“We have made it very clear that we are going to have a full transparent investigation, the results of which will be released.”
Al-Jubeir’s claims of an over-reaction echo the reported response of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to criticism of the killing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Crown Prince Mohammed struggled to comprehend why people were so angry, and called Jared Kushner to ask for an explanation.
It took two weeks for Saudi authorities to publicly acknowledge that Khashoggi was dead. It had previously claimed he left the consulate alive. The kingdom has said that his killers were rogue agents who exceeded their authority and will be punished. It claims not to know where Khashoggi’s body is.
Many news outlets have responded to Saudi’s claims of a rogue operation with incredulity, and pressured the kingdom to reveal more information, faster.
In particular the Washington Post, Khashoggi’s former employer, has criticised the Saudi response in numerous fiery editorials. It has also launched an ad campaign aimed at Saudi Arabia, and on Thursday dedicated a full page of the newspaper to a photograph of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman alongside the words “demand the truth.”
In today's print edition, a new full-page ad demanding the truth in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/Hx4BZVPFof
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 25, 2018
Al-Jubeir claimed that Saudi authorities are trying to be transparent, but said the media makes it difficult. He said:
“We have tried to share the information that we have obtained with the public.
“Unfortunately there has been this hysteria in the media about Saudi Arabia’s guilt before the investigation is completed.
“And what we say to people is wait until everything is done, then reflect on the results of the investigation, and then make a determination on whether this investigation was serious or not. But not from the get-go.”
Al-Jubeir addressed the Khashoggi case in a question-and-answer session, in which several reporters asked different questions about Saudi Arabia’s handling of the case.
One asked how Saudi Arabia plans to convince its allies that an operation as complex as Khashoggi’s killing could have taken place without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Al-Jubeir did not answer.
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