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Saudi Arabia 'doubling down' on repression after Khashoggi killing

Khashoggi was killed by agents of the Saudi government who apparently dismembered his body. [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 October, 2019

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The killing of Jamal Khashoggi took place amid a wave of arrests of dissidents, journalists, clerics, intellectuals and women’s rights activists after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in 2017.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up the repression of dissent and activism following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi one year ago, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, has come under huge international pressure after the US-based writer was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.

The Washington Post columnist, who wrote critically about the prince, was killed by agents of the Saudi government who apparently dismembered his body, which has never been found.

"Following the Saudi government's belated admission of responsibility for the October 2, 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it should move promptly to provide justice for its role in the crime and release jailed government critics," HRW said.

"It should also provide redress and an apology to injured family members and associates and end illegal surveillance and persecution of citizens expressing their opinions, at home and abroad."

Seeking to draw a line under one of its worst diplomatic crises, Saudi Arabia has put 11 unidentified suspects on trial for the murder in its Istanbul consulate last October, with five of them facing the death penalty.

Read more: Murder in the Saudi consulate: A year after Jamal Khashoggi's killing

But the murder is said to have involved a 15-man team of Saudi agents, and both the CIA and a UN special envoy have directly linked the crown prince to the killing, a charge the kingdom denies.

"If he's serious, the crown prince and his government should provide transparency into the ongoing trial and reveal everything they know about the planning, execution, and aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said.

"Instead, Saudi authorities are doubling down on repression and continuing to silence independent Saudi voices that Khashoggi sought to defend."

The group called on the international community to support targeted sanctions on members of the Saudi leadership until they end ongoing human rights violations.

The killing of Jamal Khashoggi took place amid a wave of arrests of dissidents, journalists, clerics, intellectuals and women's rights activists after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in July 2017.

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