Jamal Khashoggi participated in Stanford panel to advocate political reform in the Arab world

ByAmanda del Castillo KGO logo
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Jamal Khashoggi visited Bay Area to advocate political reform in the Arab world
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Jamal Khashoggi participated in a 2017 panel at Stanford to advocate for political reform in the Arab world.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- According to Stanford University, Jamal Khashoggi participated in a September 2017 panel, co-hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Washington Post writer also spoke at a seminar titled "Saudi Arabia: Can Economic Reform Succeed without Political Change?" in November 2017.

Colleagues in the Bay Area spoke with ABC7 News on Wednesday about the latest development in the disturbing Khashoggi case.

"What we've been deprived of is, I'd say, a very keen and smart analyst and a moral voice," Larry Diamond said. "And a political vision for gradual liberalizing reform in the Arab world."

Diamond is the Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He said he respected Khashoggi, and regarded him as an intellectual and an advocate of political reform in the Arab world.

Diamond said he's had to put his emotions aside to some extend, and focus analytically on the situation.

RELATED: Friend of Jamal Khashoggi says Turkish officials say journalist killed in 'barbaric' way

"I think this one of the most egregious crimes committed by any authoritarian ruler against an individual living in the United States, in my lifetime," he told ABC7 News.

Turkish officials have long claimed Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi operatives. This is an allegation the Saudi government has consistently denied.

In the past, Khashoggi has written critically about the Saudi government.

"This is part of an on-going and escalating pattern of authoritarian rulers tracking down their opponents abroad and seeking to murder them," Diamond said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters, "I'm waiting for the investigation to be completed. They promised that they would achieve that, and I'm counting on it."

A Turkish newspaper published pictures of 15 Saudis authorities claim were in Istanbul the day Khashoggi went missing.

The New York Times reports several of the suspects have ties to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman.

"We've got to bring it to public view," Diamond said about details in Khashoggi's death. "The Turkish government and the American government are sitting on mountains of data, including intelligence intercepts that I think make very apparent the the origin and author of this crime."

Khashoggi's colleagues said this case has powerful implications for the freedom of the press and human rights more broadly.

"It's a threat to all of our freedom, and not just an internal affair of that country," Diamond told ABC7 News. "So, we have a stake in this."

RELATED: Trump says Saudi crown prince 'totally denied any knowledge' of Jamal Khashoggi's fate

Diamond is moderating a talk scheduled for Thursday, by the Hoover Institution in Washington D.C.

Among the speakers is a former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi's editor at the Washington Post.

The Post published the last written piece by Khashoggi on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports the U.S. has asked Turkey for a recording that could reveal gruesome details of what happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump said Wednesday. But he's not confirming there is any such recording, as reported by Turkish media, and he's continuing to urge patience while Saudi Arabia says it's investigating.

Asked about a recording described by the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, Trump said, "We've asked for it, if it exists." At another point, he said, "I'm not sure yet that it exists."

Trump, who threatened punishment for Saudi Arabia when Khashoggi's disappearance first came to light two weeks ago, has repeatedly noted Saudi leaders' denials since then and insisted the U.S. must know the facts before taking action.

But when asked if he was "giving cover" to the Saudi leaders, he said Wednesday that he was not.

"No, not at all," he declared.

Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Mideast, is under pressure to explain what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor living in the U.S. who had been critical of the crown prince. Turkish officials have said he was murdered, and the Turkish newspaper's report said an audio recording revealed gory details about Khashoggi's demise inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Trump has repeated denials by the Saudi king and crown prince that they knew anything about Khashoggi's fate, and he has warned of a rush to judgment.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh denied the allegations and was confirmed to the court.

"I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump said. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned."

Trump's remarks were his most robust defense yet of the Saudis. They put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the case. Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.

The AP's Oval Office interview came not long after Trump spoke Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman, and he said both deny any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

After speaking with the king, Trump floated the idea that "rogue killers" may have been responsible for the disappearance. The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his "feeling" from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term.

In Turkey on Tuesday, a high-level Turkish official told the AP that police investigators searching the Saudi Consulate had found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there.

Pompeo met with the king and crown prince in Riyadh and said the Saudis had already started a "serious and credible investigation" and seemed to suggest it could lead to people within the kingdom. The secretary of state noted that the Saudi leaders, while denying knowledge of anything that occurred inside the consulate, had committed to accountability "including for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials."

Trump said he hoped the Saudis' own investigation of Khashoggi's disappearance would be concluded in "less than a week."

RELATED: Trump suggests 'rogue killers' involved in Saudi journalist's disappearance

In the meantime, there were signs at home that Trump's party was growing uncomfortable with his willingness to defend the Saudis.

In an interview with Fox News, a prominent Trump ally in the Senate called on Saudi Arabia to reject the crown prince, known as MBS, who rose to power last year and has aggressively sought to soften the kingdom's image abroad and attract foreign investment.

"This guy has got to go," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, turning to speak to the camera. "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself."

International leaders and business executives are severing or rethinking ties to the Saudi government after Khashoggi's high-profile disappearance. Trump has resisted any action, pointing to huge U.S. weapons deals pending with Saudi Arabia and saying that sanctions could end up hurting the American economy.

He said it was too early to say whether he endorsed other countries' actions. "I have to find out what happened," he said. But his complaint about "guilty until proven innocent" and comparison to the Kavanaugh situation suggested he was giving the Saudis more leeway than other allies.

Khashoggi went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to get documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman while his fiancee waited outside. She and Turkish authorities say he never emerged and he has not been heard from since.

The Associated Press and AP Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this story.