Saudi Journalist Disappears in Saudi Consulate in Turkey

royal court advisformer
I misread that as "astronomer" for a moment and thought it was actually kind of cool that the royal star-gazer was mixed up in a scheme to eliminate an enemy of the throne. Like a modern John Dee. And then I remembered that time the *actual* Saudi court official whose job it is to observe the moon and announce the exact beginning of Ramadan fucked it up, was put right by a real astronomer, they tried to hush it up:

Did Muslims miscall end of Ramadan fast?
The following was posted in more detail on the Yemen thread, but here I am focusing on Khashoggi related aspects.

The US senate has voted to end military support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen and intend to push for sanctions against Saudi Arabia next year.
Breaking with Trump, Republican-led Senate pushes to end U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen | CBC News
In a rare break with U.S. President Donald Trump, the Senate voted on Wednesday to move ahead with a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the war in Yemen and lawmakers vowed to push for sanctions against the kingdom in the new year.
The reasons for this include both the humanitarian disaster in the Yemen war and, significantly for this thread, displeasure over the Saudi murder of Khashoggi.
But backers of the resolution said it sent an important message that lawmakers are unhappy with the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and angry about the lack of a strong U.S. response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers also vowed to keep pushing after the new Congress take office in January for further tough action against Saudi Arabia, including legislation to impose human rights sanctions and opposition to weapons sales.
Well known and important senator Lindsey Graham said that bin Salman is so odious that he cannot see doing business with Saudi Arabia "unless there's a change there". It would appear that he is calling for bin Salman to be removed from power.
"If you want to buy our weapons, there are certain things you have to accept. How you use them matters," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told a news conference.
"The individual, the crown prince, is so toxic, so tainted, so flawed, that I can't ever see myself doing business with Saudi Arabia unless there's a change there," said Graham, generally a close Trump ally in the Senate.
Saudi Arabia has rejected a US Senate resolution criticizing Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia called the criticism interference in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs and said it was based on "unsubstantiated claims and allegations".
Saudi Arabia rejects U.S. Senate's 'interference' in kingdom | CBC News
In a lengthy statement early Monday, Saudi Arabia said the Senate's resolution "contained blatant interferences" in the kingdom's internal affairs and undermines its regional and international role. The resolution was based on "unsubstantiated claims and allegations," the statement also said.

"The kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership ... and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature," it said.
Back to business as usual.

'Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a wide-ranging overhaul of top government posts on Thursday, including naming a new foreign minister, following international fallout from the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi nearly three months ago. He also ordered a shakeup of the kingdom’s two supreme councils that oversee matters related to the economy and security, respectively. Both councils are headed by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose powers, including roles as deputy prime minister and defense minister, were untouched in the overhaul.'

After Khashoggi killing, Saudi king overhauls cabinet, names new FM
Back to business as usual.

'Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a wide-ranging overhaul of top government posts on Thursday, including naming a new foreign minister, following international fallout from the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi nearly three months ago. He also ordered a shakeup of the kingdom’s two supreme councils that oversee matters related to the economy and security, respectively. Both councils are headed by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose powers, including roles as deputy prime minister and defense minister, were untouched in the overhaul.'

After Khashoggi killing, Saudi king overhauls cabinet, names new FM

Do the retiring ministers leave with a lump sum and a good pension.... ?

Or a whistling scimitar ?
A well reasoned response, when you're handing out the Ferrero Rochers at the Embassy party......
Is Ferrero Rocher halal?

ETA: on 2nd thoughts, see my previous response.
And the fall-out continues. Netflix is being criticized for censoring their content for customers in Saudi Arabia to remove a show where an American comedian criticized Saudi Arabia and bin Salman over the murder of Khashoggi and the Saudi involvement in Yemen.
Netflix criticized for pulling Patriot Act episode in Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi killing, Yemen | CBC News
Minhaj used his second episode, released on Oct. 28, to lambaste Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the killing of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen.
Minhaj said the crown prince was being hailed as the reformer the Arab world needed until Khashoggi's killing.

"The revelations about Khashoggi's killing have shattered that image and it blows my mind that it took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to go: 'Oh, I guess he's not really a reformer,"' he added.

In the roughly 18-minute monologue, Minhaj also mentions the ruling Al Saud family and its vast wealth, saying: "Saudi Arabia is crazy. One giant family controls everything."
Netflix removed the episode when they received a demand from the Saudis.
Netflix, in a statement Wednesday, said the episode was removed from the kingdom as a result of a legal request from authorities and not due to its content.
While political censorship is of course extensive in Saudi Arabia, this incident shows that the Khashoggi incident continues to have consequences both inside and outside Saudi Arabia.
Saudi prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for 5 of 11 suspects in the Khashoggi murder. Saudi prosecutors seeking death penalty for 5 suspects in Khashoggi killing | CBC News
Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday it will seek the death penalty against five suspects in the slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a killing that has seen members of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage implicated in the writer's assassination.
There was no explanation as to why 7 of the original 18 arrested are not facing charges at this time, nor did they name those who were in court.
Prosecutors announced that 11 suspects in the slaying attended their first court hearing with lawyers, but the statement did not name those in court. It also did not explain why seven other suspects arrested over the Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul did not immediately face formal charges. The kingdom previously announced 18 people had been arrested.
The news story has a brief but good summary of events up to this point and is worth reading by those looking for a refresher.
US foreign minister Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today. Pompeo said that he brought up the issue of Khashoggi's murder. Bin Salman assured him that everyone responsible will be held accountable.
Pompeo says he raised Khashoggi killing, fate of women activists with Saudi prince | CBC News
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Saudi leaders assured him everyone responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be held accountable, as Riyadh tries to resolve its biggest political crisis in a generation.
However, a US CIA assessment said that bin Salman himself ordered the murder, so those assurances sound a bit hollow in my opinion.
A CIA assessment has blamed the crown prince for ordering the killing, which Saudi officials deny. At least 21 Saudis are under investigation in the case, with five facing the death penalty. Five officials were also fired, including a senior royal adviser.
"They both acknowledged that accountability needed to take place. They talked about the process that is occurring inside their country, both the investigative process and the judicial process that is taking place," Pompeo said.
Pompeo is primarily in the region to try to shore up an anti-Iran coalition, in which Saudi Arabia would play a major role.
Pompeo urges Gulf states to heal rift over Qatar | CBC News
And things keep getting weirder. I have previously posted stories on Saudi intelligence targetting an associate of Khashoggi living in Canada by hacking his phone to gather information about plans he had with Khashoggi just prior to Khashoggi's death. The phone hacking was discovered by Citizen Lab, which is a technology and information organisation based at the University of Toronto. Citizen Lab tracked down how it was being done and who the target was.
International undercover agents target digital rights group Citizen Lab | CBC News

It appears that members Citizen Lab themselves are now targets of some foreign intelligence organisation.
The Canadian researchers who reported that Israeli software was used to spy on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi's inner circle before his gruesome death are being targeted in turn by international undercover operatives, The Associated Press has found.
Twice in the past two months, men claiming to be foreign businessmen have used various pretexts to get members of Citizen Lab to meet them at restaurants. Once there however they attempted to get personal details about Citizen Lab members.
Twice in the past two months, men masquerading as socially conscious investors have lured members of the Citizen Lab internet watchdog group to meetings at luxury hotels to quiz them for hours about their work exposing Israeli surveillance and the details of their personal lives. In both cases, the researchers believe they were secretly recorded.
The first claimed to be a South African businessman based in Madrid.
The first message reached Bahr Abdul Razzak, a Syrian refugee who works as a Citizen Lab researcher, Dec. 6, when a man calling himself Gary Bowman got in touch via LinkedIn. The man described himself as a South African financial technology executive based in Madrid.
The second was someone claiming to be the director of a Paris based company.
This time, the contact came not from Bowman of FlameTech but from someone who identified himself as Michel Lambert, a director at the Paris-based agricultural technology firm CPW-Consulting.
In both cases the companies didn't actually exist, although some effort had been put into creating a digital facade. That facade however could only withstand superficial probing.
Like FlameTech, CPW-Consulting was a fiction. Searches of Orbis and the French commercial court registry Infogreffe turned up no trace of the supposedly Paris-based company or indeed of any Paris-based company bearing the letters CPW.
And when the AP visited CPW's alleged office there was no evidence of the company; the address was home to a mainly residential apartment building. Residents and the building's caretaker said they had never heard of the firm.
Whoever dreamed up CPW had taken steps to ensure the illusion survived a casual web search, but even those efforts didn't bear much scrutiny.
The company had issued a help wanted ad, for example, seeking a digital mapping specialist for their Paris office, but Scott-Railton discovered that the language had been lifted almost word-for-word from an ad from an unrelated company seeking a mapping specialist in London.
However, Citizen Lab had become suspicious of the first attempt and were ready when the second attempt was made.
When Lambert suggested an in-person meeting in New York during a Jan. 19 phone call, Scott-Railton felt certain that Lambert was trying to set him up.
But Scott-Railton agreed to the meeting. He planned to lay a trap of his own.
Scott-Railton from Citizen Lab accepted "Lambert's" invitation to meet him in New York. Scott-Railton took several concealed recording devices with him.
Anyone watching Scott-Railton and Lambert laughing over wagyu beef and lobster bisque at the Peninsula Hotel's upscale restaurant on Thursday afternoon might have mistaken the pair for friends.
In fact, the lunch was Spy vs. Spy. Scott-Railton had spent the night before trying to secret a homemade camera into his tie, he later told AP, eventually settling for a GoPro action camera and several recording devices hidden about his person. On the table, Lambert had placed a large pen in which Scott-Railton said he spotted a tiny camera lens peeking out from an opening in the top.
"Lambert" seemed to have several associates watching them.
Lambert didn't seem to be alone. At the beginning of the meal, a man sat behind him, holding up his phone as if to take pictures and then abruptly left the restaurant, having eaten nothing. Later, two or three men materialized at the bar and appeared to be monitoring proceedings.
However, Scott-Railton had arranged to have a pair of journalists sitting nearby. They watched the meeting and near the end they approached "Lambert" and tried to interview him. "Lambert" however refused to talk and left.
Scott-Railton wasn't alone either. A few tables away, two Associated Press journalists were making small talk as they waited for a signal from Scott-Railton, who had invited the reporters to observe the lunch from nearby and then interview Lambert near the end of the meal.

(...) As he paced around the restaurant waiting for the cheque, Lambert refused to answer questions who he worked for or why no trace of his firm could be found.
"I don't have to give you any explanation," he said. He eventually retreated to a back room and closed the door.
The AP journalists were not able to find out who "Lambert" and "Bowman" really were or who they worked for. It is possible that they worked for the Israeli firm NSO, who supplied the hacking software to Saudi Arabia, but NSO have denied any involvement. NSO supply hacking software to numerous oppressive regimes around the world.
Who Lambert and Bowman really are isn't clear. Neither men returned emails, LinkedIn messages or phone calls. And despite their keen focus on NSO the AP has found no evidence of any link to the Israeli spyware merchant, which is adamant that it wasn't involved.
Citizen Lab aren't speculating on who was behind this. However, they do believe it was an attempt to try to get them to say something that could be used to blacken Citizen Lab's reputation and discredit them.
Scott-Railton and Abdul Razzak said they didn't want to speculate about who was involved. But both said they believed they were being steered toward making controversial comments that could be used to blacken Citizen Lab's reputation.
"It could be they wanted me to say, 'Yes, I hate Israel,' or 'Yes, Citizen Lab is against NSO because it's Israeli,"' said Abdul Razzak.
In both cases the mysterious "businessmen" tried to steer the conversation to get the Citizen Lab representatives to say something that could be construed as anti-semitic.
Like Bowman, Lambert appeared to be working off cue cards and occasionally made awkward conversational gambits. At one point he repeated a racist French expression, insisting it wasn't offensive. He also asked Scott-Railton questions about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and whether he grew up with any Jewish friends. At another point he asked whether there might not be a "racist element" to Citizen Lab's interest in Israeli spyware.
That may indicate that they were working for NSO, the Israeli software company, or possibly even the Israeli government, acting on behalf of NSO. On the other hand, it may simply be a convenient technique to use in an attempt to discredit them and they could be working for someone else altogether.

None the less, there appears to be some sort of link to the murder of Khashoggi, as it was this which brought Citizen Lab's involvement to public attention to begin with. Just who "Bowman" and "Lambert" are working for is a very interesting question.

The photo below is of the man claiming to be "Michel Lambert".
wonder if the moment Iran makes a move and the US cast around for allies in the region,,,,,will all of a sudden Saudi Arabia become besties again ?
A UN "special rapporteur" has determined that the murder of Khashoggi was premeditated and perpetrated by officials of the Saudi Arabian state.
Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi's 'brutal' murder, UN special rapporteur says | CBC News
The "brutal and premeditated killing" of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia," according to the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The final report will be delivered to the UN Human Rights Council in June.
Callamard's final report will be delivered to the UN Human Rights Council in June.
The investigation team had access to parts of the recording of the killing obtained by the Turks.
Her team was given access to parts of the audio recording obtained by Turkey's intelligence agency, but said they were unable to do a "deep technical examination" of the material.
She also pointed out major concerns with the fairness of the trial of the 11 people in Saudi Arabia who are accused of it, and has requested an official visit to Saudi Arabia on this issue.
Callamard also has requested an official visit to Saudi Arabia due to "major concerns" regarding the fairness of proceedings for the 11 people facing trial there for Khashoggi's killing.
The Turks have also complained about the "complete lack of transparency" from the Saudis with respect to the murder of Khashoggi. This echos statements made by the UN yesterday (see above post).
Turkey says Saudi lack of transparency on Khashoggi concerning | CBC News
The "complete lack of transparency" from Saudi officials on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is deeply concerning and detrimental to their credibility, an aide to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
The Turks repeated their demands that the Saudis extradite the murderers to Turkey to stand trial.
"Saudi authorities must extradite Mr. Khashoggi's killers to Turkey, where they committed a premeditated murder, as proof of their willingness to serve the cause of justice."
The UK and Canada will co-host an international summit on press freedom on the 10th of July in London. Canada and Britain to co-host press freedom summit this summer | CBC News
Canada and Britain will co-host an international summit in London this summer on the growing threats to freedom of the press, and to promote better protection of journalists, The Canadian Press has learned.

(...) Sources say the talks between Freeland and Hunt have progressed to the point where they have now set a date for a two-day gathering starting July 10, which will include members of governments, civil society and journalists.
The two incidents which inspired this summit are the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post reporter Khashoggi and the imprisonment of two Reuters reporters in Myanmar.
The imprisonment of two Reuters reporters who were sentenced to seven-year terms in Myanmar for violating the country's Official Secrets Act and the murder.
The dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last fall.
It appears that the murder of Khashoggi has not been forgotten and is continuing to have implications for Saudi Arabia's image on the world stage.
And the fallout for Saudi Arabia continues as 3 dozen countries, including Canada, Australia, and the 28 EU members have issued a joint statement telling Saudi Arabia to release 10 political prisoners and to cooperate with a UN led investigation into the murder of Khashoggi in Istanbul. Canada, Europe, Australia issue 1st rebuke of Saudi Arabia at UN rights forum | CBC News
Three dozen countries, including Canada and all 28 EU members, called on Saudi Arabia on Thursday to release 10 activists and co-operate with a UN-led investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul Consulate.
The US however has notably not signed the declaration.
The joint statement, also backed by Australia but not the United States, was read out by Harald Aspelund, Iceland's ambassador to the UN in Geneva. There was no immediate Saudi reaction.
In more fall out, the US senate has voted to end support for Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war. One of the major reasons cited was the murder of Khashoggi in Istanbul.
U.S. Senate votes to end support for Saudi war in Yemen | CBC News
Trump's support for Saudi Arabia has been a point of tension with Congress since the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. Lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia strongly enough for the killing.

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