Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was often critical of Saudi Arabia's government, but this wasn't what earned him a writing ban in the country two years ago. Rather, it was criticism of President Trump.
Saudi Arabia in 2016 banned Khashoggi from writing, appearing on TV, and attending conferences in the country, after he offered a light critique of America's then president-elect, The Independent reports. At a Washington think tank, Khashoggi said that Trump's Middle East policies were "contradictory," and he told The Washington Post that the incoming president's attempts for reconciliation in the region were "wishful thinking."
That was the final straw for Saudi Arabia, Wired's Virginia Heffernan points out. A Saudi spokesman quickly said that Khashoggi didn't represent the kingdom's views, and his newspaper column was subsequently canceled.
The State Department's own 2017 report on human rights in Saudi Arabia later noted that Khashoggi received a media ban "as the result of remarks he made that were interpreted as criticizing the president of the United States." This ban was reportedly lifted the following July, but by that point, Khashoggi had moved to the U.S. and feared he would be arrested if he returned home. He went on to write columns for the Post that often criticized Saudi Arabia's media suppression.
Earlier this month, Khashoggi went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a marriage document. Although Saudi Arabia's government denies any knowledge of what happened, Turkey says it has evidence that he was tortured and murdered in front of a Saudi diplomat.
In March 2018, Khashoggi told the Columbia Journalism Review that he was "so insulted" when the royal court told him he couldn't write anymore. "In America," he said, "you take freedom for granted." Brendan Morrow