Saudi Arabia Sentences Five People to Death for Murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced five people to death and three more to prison for the assassination last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Dissident journalist Khashoggi was savagely killed by Saudi government agents last year in the country’s consulate in Istanbul. The assassination drew widespread condemnation from around the world, and sparked several Hollywood players to review – and, in some cases, sever – their ties with Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has opened up the conservative Muslim country’s entertainment industry.

A U.N. report last summer said it was inconceivable that the prince, who basically controls all levers of state in Saudi Arabia, did not know of the killing in advance, and recommended an investigation. He has denied any involvement. The Saudi Arabian government has blamed the killing on rogue elements within its security forces.

Eleven people were prosecuted in a closed-door trial that human rights organizations say was opaque and below international judicial standards. A close aide to the crown prince was investigated but not charged.

Popular on Variety

Khashoggi, 59, an outspoken critic of the Saudi crown prince and his rule of the oil-rich kingdom, was murdered in October 2018 after going inside the consulate in Istanbul to file some paperwork regarding his upcoming marriage. Evidence compiled by Turkish investigators indicated that he was killed and his body dismembered by Saudi agents who had arrived in Turkey days before.

The Saudi government initially denied that Khashoggi was killed in its consulate. But in the face of mounting evidence not just of the murder but of official Saudi involvement, it changed tack and attributed the assassination to security agents operating on their own, without official sanction.

The brutal and targeted killing of a journalist sparked outrage around the world. In Hollywood, WME Endeavor turned back a planned $400 million investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Vice Media reviewed its dealings with the Saudi Research and Marketing Group. That group remains an investor in Penske Media Corporation, the parent company of Variety.

The Saudi crown prince has denied ordering Khashoggi’s murder. But in a televised interview two months ago, he said that he bore “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”

More Politics

  • Donald Trump Parasite

    Trump Mocks 'Parasite' Best Picture Win: 'What the Hell Was That All About?'

    President Donald Trump took aim at “Parasite’s” historic Oscar wins at a Colorado rally on Thursday. “How bad were the Academy Awards this year?” he asked, prompting jeers from the crowd. “Did you see it?” “The winner is… a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all about?” he went on. “We got [...]

  • EFM Euro Film Policy Seminar

    Berlin: European Film Policy Seminar Examines Changing Landscape

    The Berlinale’s European Film Market opened on Thursday with the inaugural European Film Politics Seminar, offering a look at the pressing challenges facing independent European producers in a fast-changing landscape increasingly dominated by the growing number of U.S. streaming giants. The seminar was hosted by Steven Gaydos, executive vice president of global content of Variety. [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidates, former New York

    Mike Bloomberg Ambushed in Free-for-All Democratic Debate

    Mike Bloomberg took the stage in Las Vegas for his first debate on Wednesday night, and promptly walked into an ambush. The billionaire former New York mayor took repeated attacks from the five other candidates in the opening minutes of the ninth Democratic debate. “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant [...]

  • DNC

    Mike Bloomberg to Join Democratic Presidential Contenders at Wednesday's Debate

    Democratic presidential contender Mike Bloomberg will take the stage alongside his rivals at a primary debate for the first time on Wednesday night after a poll released today allowed him to qualify for the event. Bloomberg commanded 19% support in the poll conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist, second only to Sen. Bernie Sanders [...]

  • Mike Bloomberg

    Mike Bloomberg's Odd Meme Blitz Spurs Instagram to Require Influencers to Disclose Paid Political Content

    A new paid meme campaign on Instagram by billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who’s running a guerrilla bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has prompted Facebook to clarify that influencers on the platform must disclose such arrangements. This week, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign launched a broad campaign across at least 19 top Instagram accounts with a collective [...]

  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks,

    Hope Hicks Leaves Fox to Return to White House

    Hope Hicks is leaving her post as Fox Corp. communications chief to return to the White House, a Fox spokesperson confirmed Thursday. She will serve as senior counselor to the president, while working with adviser Jared Kushner. Hicks was the former White House communications director, serving during the first year of the Trump administration. She [...]

  • Bernie Sanders on stage at the

    L.A. Musicians' Union Local Endorses Bernie Sanders

    Boldly declaring itself “the first musicians union in the country to take a position in the 2020 Democratic primary,” the 7,000-member American Federation of Musicians Local 47 announced Wednesday that it has has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, a little less than three weeks out from the California primary. In making the announcement, the union [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content