Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a planned operation, according to Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor. He’s been writing for us in the last year. All of his work can be found here, including his final column. He was living in Virginia after leaving Saudi Arabia because he feared for his safety. He had been planning to settle in Istanbul and marry his Turikish fiancée. He went to the Saudi Consulate to pick up wedding papers, and he was detained and killed there. His remains have not been found.

Karen Attiah is global opinions editor for The Washington Post and was Jamal’s editor as well. She joined us in 2014 as an editor for our foreign desk before moving to the opinions section as deputy digital editor. In 2016 she moved to heading up our global opinions section with reported commentary from around the world.

Jason Rezaian joined The Post in 2012 and has been writing for global opinions this year. Rezaian was previously our bureau chief in Tehran, Iran, where he lived from 2009 to 2016. He's originally from San Francisco and still roots for the Golden State Warriors and Oakland A's. He's been a huge Star Wars fan for as long as he can remember. He also loves burritos, good ramen, and cooking Thai curries. His memoir "Prisoner," about the 544 days he spent held hostage by the government of Iran, comes out in January 2019.

Today they will be talking about Jamal’s work, his life, his columns, as well as press freedom issues around the world, a topic Karen and Jason are very familiar with. Due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing situation involving Jamal, we might not answer questions speculating about what might happen or has happened outside of the known facts, and thanks in advance for understanding.

Besides that, Ask Us Anything at 11 a.m. ET, and thanks for joining us!


EDIT: We're live!

EDIT 2: And we're done! Thanks everyone for the great questions and conversations. If you want to keep talking, feel free to send us a tweet, for Karen and Jason. Thanks again to you all, and to the mods, and have a great weekend iAMA!

Comments: 1208 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

ajafarzadeh3739 karma

The coverage around Jamal's murder has centered on the coverup, the lies of the KSA government, and the fallout for MbS. Do you think there are parts of this story that have not received the attention they deserve, and why?

p.s. personal note to Jason: As a fellow Iranian I consider you a true role model and cannot express enough how grateful I am for the work you've continued to do since being freed.

washingtonpost3430 karma

As an editor, I still feel protective of Jamal's voice and work even after his death. I want everyone to know what his ideas were. I was heartened when cable news anchors read out loud his last column that was sent to us after his death,speaking about the need for free expression in the Arab world. I don't think there has been enough of engagement with his thoughts and ideas while he was alive. Rather there is so much focus on his death.

I think that it would be great for people around the world to read what he wrote about Saudi Arabia. He didn't like being called a dissident. He just wanted to advise what he thought was the best course for Saudi Arabia. All of his columns for the Washington Post are here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/jamal-khashoggi/?utm_term=.250f8656b78d -Karen

cSpotRun1025 karma

When I first read your preface to that article, I believe that was the moment this all sunk in for me. I'm not sure why. That a Washington Post journalist would not be coming home... Would not be there to edit his work with you. Thank you so much for the work you're doing, and I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Though it was obviously a loss to us all.

washingtonpost1093 karma

Thank you so much. I cried writing it. The world lost an irreplaceable voice. -Karen

washingtonpost906 karma

These are the main points, but I also think they hubris of the Saudi regime under MBS -- but also before him -- should be talked about more. Ultimately they thought, and still think, they can get away with this. Why? What has created that perception? And how far is that from the values of most of the modern world? I wrote about it a bit earlier this week here.

Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to hear from people of Iranian origins that they think my work matters. I appreciate it. - Jason

cahaseler1858 karma

What can regular citizens do to put pressure on our government to do something about this outrageous act? It looks like they're trying to sweep it under the table as much as possible.

washingtonpost1527 karma

There's so much. there are many members of Congress who have been saying that they would like to stop the sales of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia in their atrocious war in Yemen. As tragic and personal as Jamal's murder is to me, I also know that thousands of innocent people without a voice are being bombed and started to death by the Saudi coalition in Yemen. The New York timeshas a gripping piece about itthat I think every person should read in the wake of Jamal's death. Americans should also press for the administration to review the evidence and pursue this all the way to the top, even to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The United States should impose necessary sanctions and penalties on all those responsible. Beyond that there are many activists, writers and journalists who are sitting and rotting in jail for tweets, mild criticisms of the Saudi regime under MBS. Please press for the U.S. to pressure Saudi Arabia to let peaceful reformers out of prison ( economist Essam al Zamel, and 29 year old women's driving activist Loujain Hathloul come to mind) and to stop the extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and jailings. This is not a country that should be allowed to paint itself as a reformed, modern country. Our government and elites shouldn't be controlled by blood money, literally. -Karen

nosecohn241 karma

Can we boycott companies who do business there, or are there too many?

washingtonpost446 karma

I think we could also put pressure on U.S. organizations and firms that partner with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's philanthropic organization, the MISK foundation. There is a conference in Riyadh coming up in November. U.S. Firms should boycott: https://miskglobalforum.com/ -Karen

kwhittek1040 karma

In your opinion is there any possible chance the Saudi prince didn’t know about this plan, as he claims?

washingtonpost2689 karma

What Jamal told me shortly after Saudi Arabia started locking up women activists around the time of lifting the ban, I talked with Jamal over lunch and asked him if it was possible that these repressive things were happening without the Saudi Prince's knowledge. Jamal said "There is no way. The crown prince has absolute authority over what happens in the kingdom". The U.S. intercepted communications about a high level plot to lure and capture Jamal. And other Saudis in exile have spoken out about the policy to lure back and silence dissidents from abroad. Given the Crown prince's ruthless behavior, Khashoggi's criticisms in the Post, and the state ordered repression of other reformers, I believe the crown prince not only knew about this plan, but took part in designing and authorizing it. -Karen

zilla1987450 karma

Can you help clue us in as to what made Khashoggi dangerous enough to Saudi leadership to warrant his murder? I know that Saudi's kill many political dissidents at home, but to brazenly murder in their Turkish embassy... It just seems so reckless. Is Khashoggi unique from other dissidents, or was this just a reckless decision by Saudi leadership?

washingtonpost631 karma

In my opinion, what made Jamal's critiques so hurtful was that he was once close to the Saudi royal family, and served as one of their advisers. He comes from a prominent family in Medina. He was regularly called upon for quotes and analysis by middle east experts and journalists. He had 1.6 million followers on twitter. People listened to whatever he had to say. Out of the dissidents at home and abroad he was the most resonable, yet direct in his critiques. He told me once that it did upset the authorities that he wrote for the Washington Post. I don't discount the fact that his efforts to write in Arabic also upset the authorities, as many Saudis read and write in Arabia.

But overall this was just the latest in reckless and stupid decisions by KSA under Mohammed Bin Salman. Jamal said once that MBS was acting like Putin. He also wrote about his crazy decisions to cut off ties with Canada, the kidnapping of the Lebanese PM, and the jailing of women activists. Jamal's critiques poked holes in the MBS as reformer narrative that the KSA leadership spent so much money and treasure to cultivate in the West. It's Jamal's murder, not his peaceful writings-- that sends that whole narrative completely crashing down. It's so mind-bogglingly idiotic. - Karen

washingtonpost278 karma

I don't claim to know what their thinking was, but I agree that the decision was incredibly reckless.

Jamal was a well known and respected voice among Arab speakers for many years. He had a huge following. I think Saudi authorities were probably less aware of how many people he knew in the rest of the world. People with massive platforms who could speak to him as a person, but also as an authority on the Arab world. Ultimately I think they thought they could get away with silencing and it would be one less problem for them. I hope that was a miscalculation. - @jrezaian

Levoire436 karma

First off, I’m sorry for your loss and thank you to you both for all of your hard work.

Did Jamal ever fear for his safety? Did he ever express nervousness about going to the Saudi consulate or was this whole dire situation out of the blue?

washingtonpost746 karma

Thank you for joining us.

As far as I know, Jamal was most upset about how the Saudi authorities put pressure on his children to get to him, in the form of travel bans. He lived and moved relatively freely in Washington, and it is my understanding that he safely went to the Embassy here at least once. He had friends that told him to stay away from consulates and embassies, and my understanding is that he gave his fiancee phones to call if he did not come out. He seemed to know they were trying to lure him and at least arrest him. But at least to me, he didn't indicate that he was in fear of losing his life. He was more afraid of losing his freedom. -Karen

Mangalz282 karma

Of all the horrible things that Saudi Arabia does, why do you think this one is sticking and getting so much attention?

washingtonpost367 karma

I've thought about this question a lot. It's true, considering the atrocious war in Yemen, and the disappearances of hundreds, if not thousands of people in the last two years, it's been astounding to see how much this has resonated with people around the globe. I think the sheer horrendous nature of the crime-- a man once close to the Saudi regime, who then left behind his family and job to live in exile and write, only to be trapped by a plot and killed in a consulate while doing something as benign as getting papers to get married again-- its a story that is incredible and tragic. Add on top of that the geopolitical jousting between the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey-- its just easier for people to grab on to than it is the disastrous war in Yemen. And I say that having written and edited pieces about the horriifc war in Yemen. Jamal wrote about urging KSA to end that war too. I think for my part, I wanted to go on the airwaves and tell people about the man I knew, and I basically have been grieving in front of international audiences for the past three week. I am depressed, devastated for his family, and furious at the powerful, rich forces behind KSA and Washington and Europe that have allowed us to turn our backs on the atrocities committed by KSA. Enough is Enough. Sometimes change can come from unlikely places-- and maybe Jamal's death wont be in vain if we start to rethink how we deal with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Jamal saw this darkness coming a long time ago -Karen

NotSelfReferential1 karma

Journalists don't like it when journalists are killed so journalists make it a big deal by covering it.

washingtonpost7 karma

His murder is not just an attack on him, but on journalists around the world. It's a direct attack on us at the Washington Post as well. We aren't going to let this go. The world is watching -Karen

mmm_toasty168 karma

How are journalists feeling toward Saudi Arabia? Do you have colleagues there now? Do you know any Saudi Arabian journalists, and if so, how are they doing?

washingtonpost330 karma

I can't speak for all journalists, but for the ones I've spoken to with experience in the Middle East the attitude is that the backlash should have happened long ago. Since Jamal disappeared I know Western journalists who made reporting trips there. Saudi Arabia is famously difficult to access for reporters and their ability to move about the country unhindered is very limited.

Other Middle Eastern (Arab, Iranian, Turkish) I know are very concerned about the precedent that this case will set. If Saudi Arabia is allowed to get away with it, as many fear will happen, they worry about their safety in operating throughout the world. Frankly, I worry about this, too. - @jrezaian

kingshmiley166 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA,

What do you think is the most important thing you can do to honor Khashoggi's memory?

washingtonpost230 karma

I think the first thing we can do is to continue demanding answers into what happened and then demanding accountability. In my mind that's the most important goal right now.

But beyond that, reading his words and listening to what he was saying about Saudi Arabia, the crown prince, the need for free expression in the Middle East is so crucial. He was an essential voice from a part of the world we rarely get clear view into. That's so important and by continuing to highlight his work, I hope it inspires others to raise their voices. - @jrezaian

albino_frog134 karma

This is likely a stupid question, but any funny/interesting/heartwarming stories you can share about Jamal Khashoggi that haven't been made public?

washingtonpost191 karma

As an editor, Jamal was really really kind and patient. I deal with a lot of writers, so sometimes when they file a piece, I can't always get to it right away-- might take a few days. I'm used to writers getting upset about things. The only time Jamal got upset at me was when I messed up the coding for his Arabic translation and messed up the grammar in the post. He started furiously sending me screenshots like, "This is wrong!!" "This is terrible!". We fixed it right away. I don't know why I find it heartwarming, in a way. Considering all the pressure he was under, he was always kind, patient. He was the most chill of writers. Except when I messed up his arabic :) -Karen

washingtonpost142 karma

There was another time I asked him to write about Saudi Arabia getting absolutely destroyed in the World Cup by Russia. He was basically like, "Yeah leave me alone, Saudis are too sad right now" and also said don't know/care that much about football/soccer. Lol. I tried :) -Karen

SquirrelTale55 karma

Yes, please answer this one! I want to know about the person, Jamal, as a colleague and friend. As horrible as what has happened, I want to hear the humanizing sides of who he was as a person. It's hard to feel connected to him when it's just outrage surrounding the act of his murder.

washingtonpost92 karma

Please read this short piece and listen to Jamal in his own voice. It's a good place to start.

I only met Jamal several times, but we had many mutual friends. My last encounter with him was at the home of one those friends for a Ramadan Iftar. There were just 6 of us there, including my wife, Jamal, his daughter and me. I loved talking to him, because we had so many similar insights about two countries -- Iran and Saudi Arabia -- that we both cared deeply about, whose governments are atrocious, and are often seen at odds with one another. In the end, though, when it came to values and what a modern society should and could be, we agreed on almost everything. - Jason

questions22ask108 karma

In his last article, your dear friend Jamal wished for a form of "International Herald Tribune" in Arabic dedicated for the Arab world, so they can be informed on global events, democracy and human rights. How soon do you think that his last wish will be fulfilled? And how?

Thank you!

washingtonpost96 karma

The sooner the better! But it won't happen as long as the repressive governments of the Middle East are allowed to get away with silencing critics and as in this case, in the most gruesome ways. - @jrezaian

chuckhart81 karma

I'm sorry you lost your friend and coworker. Do you have any antidotes about him you wish to share? Like, something funny that gives insight to what kind of person he was.

Edit: *anecdotes

washingtonpost174 karma

Hi there... yeah I do! I think some of my fondest memories was when he came to The Post for the first time and I was showing him around the newsroom. His eyes lit up, like he was at Disneyland or something (mind you, the Post's building is pretty cool). He immediately started taking selfies (even though guests aren't allowed to, sorry bosses!) and was like, "Ah I miss this-- this reminds me of being an editor in Saudi Arabia!" And then we talked about our editing processes. Mind you Jamal had been kicked out of so many papers and outlets for expressing his views. One of the last times we met, we were joking together about how he couldn't seem to hold down a job. I miss him. - Karen

Abnormal_Anomaly63 karma

Why do you think Iran has kept mostly quiet on Khashoggi's assassination?

washingtonpost142 karma

Iran's state media has covered Jamal's murder extensively, but you're right, the state has been mostly quiet.

This week, though, President Rouhani got in the act saying that. "I don't think that any country would dare do such a thing without US backing," in a cabinet media that was carried on state tv.

I'm actually publishing a piece later today about this and ultimately I think this would have been a moment for Iran to be less repressive of journalists, free those who are in jail and stop their harassment of journalists abroad. But their system is not set up to react creatively like that. They will use Jamal's murder as propaganda to say "see, Saudi Arabia is evil," which is true, but that does nothing to negate their own terrible treatment of journalists and many others. - @jrezaian

barhoom_throw53 karma

Karen, you don’t believe how much your efforts on Twitter are helping. I have been born and raised in Saudi Arabia, although I’m from a neighboring country. My brother got a call on the 25th of November asking him to get out of the house as they wanted to investigate with him about something. He agreed, he’s still in solitary confinement up to this moment, it’s been devastating for me and my family, we only get a call from him once a month. Please please, focus on the issues of those who have been jailed in the past year, 95% of them are innocent. Could you please mention them?

washingtonpost36 karma

Thank you so much. Yes, it is more important than ever to talk about those who are languishing in prisons in the las year. Now is the time to pressure for their freedom. Essam al Zamel and Loujain Hathloul are prominent examples that come to mind that anguished Jamal, Loujain in particular and Aziza Yousef as women driving activists who were jailed this year. Im happy to talk to you further off this forum about your brother. -Karen

sexymanish48 karma

Considering all the occasions that the US has helped Saudis get away with murder - literally -- why assume this will be any different? How much do the Saudis spend influencing US politicians and institutions?

Hani Al-Sayegh: who was living in Canada but accused of involvement in Khobar Towers incident, renditioned to the US with a lot of media spin about how he would implicate Iran in the bombing but was then sent back to Saudia Arabia after all charges were dropped against him by the US Justice Dept for lack of evidence -- and he's probably executed in Saudi Arabia now, having never been even formally accused of a crime nor given a chance to defend himself in court

washingtonpost43 karma

That's a good question. The Post has done some very good reporting on the issue of Saudi influence in Washington. Read it here. - Jason

sbFRESH46 karma

Thank you for all the hard work WaPo has done for decades.

What is the likelihood that the media will gain access to the alleged tapes of Mr. Khashohggi's murder and if recieved, would your publication release them? I believe the release of the tapes is the only way KSA will ever be held fully responsible by the public.

Thank You.

washingtonpost83 karma

If the Post did receive such tapes that would be a decision made by the news department. It's an important question, and a reminder that the Turkey and Saudi Arabia - both US allies- have obscured the details of this case and what they do and don't know. The US government is, in my opinion, being made to look very weak in this process. - Jason

washingtonpost46 karma

I will second what Jason said. Right now, Turkey, a notorious jailing of journalists, is now being made to look like the good guy in the fight to punish Saudi Arabia for this murder. Whatever Turkey's game is, whether that is using the tape as a way to slowly twist the knife into Saudi Arabia and get the King to sideline MBS-- time will tell. But KSA is very much dependent on Washington-- so the ball is in our court. -Karen

vitalbumhole44 karma

Is there any advice you would give to young journalists covering areas of the world that are hostile to free press such as Saudi Arabia?

washingtonpost79 karma

Yes, I would say that one must know the risks associated with working in those parts of the world. People often think I was reckless to report from Iran. For me it was a calculated decision knowing that other journalists had been persecuted in the past.

That said, this work is so very important and I hope that journalists are not deterred from telling the truth about hostile and repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia's.

nanaro1037 karma

Have you ever been attacked due to something you reported?

washingtonpost124 karma

I spent 544 days in prison in Iran for being a reporter there. - Jason

thebolts35 karma

Frankly every Middle Eastern journalist is terrified their government is after them.

Considering Khashoggi resided in America and worked for an American agency, what assurances can you give to the rest of the journalists to report without fear?

washingtonpost74 karma

Unfortunately in 2018 there are no assurances that one is safe to work as a journalist no matter where they are in the world. - Jason

drinkmyselfsober34 karma

Have you or any of your colleagues seen or heard first hand the Turkish audio or video evidence?

washingtonpost24 karma

Not that I know of. - Jason

PeteWenzel28 karma

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Do you feel that the US government is doing enough to protect press freedom at home and especially around the world?

Have you ever felt that more official support could be given to (US) reporters and journalists who are imprisoned abroad for doing their work - maybe Jason can comment on this given his personal experience in Iran?

washingtonpost61 karma

Thanks for this question, Pete. In a word "no" I don't think the US is doing enough to promote press freedom and if anything the current administration's approach to dismissing journalism critical of it as fake or biased is corrosive to the notion of press freedom. I've been writing about this quite a lot this year in relation to the jailing and murder of journalists in many countries around the world, including other democracies.

Yes, I think the US government was long scene as a moral authority because we viewed press freedom as essential. I would welcome a return to that mentality from this administration and future ones. - @jrezaian

misteratoz28 karma

How do you deal with all the horrible crap that is going down on an emotional level?

washingtonpost93 karma

Its been some of the worst weeks of my life. It's hard. I cry for a while then I go on TV. I do interviews and then go home and lie on my couch for a while. I'm not sleeping well. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a close colleague and friend was murdered, and that I basically have to grieve in public in order for people to care. I'm in the anger phase now-- when I see governments that refuse to stop their weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, or people talk about Jamal like "Why should be care about a non-citizen journalist" I see red all over again. It was enraging to see Jamal's son having to shake hands with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the man who is a prime suspect in ordering his father's death. I also feel for those Saudi dissidents who are calling me terrified for their lives, for their brothers and sisters, and who are calling me crying. It's all so much. But I know that the news cameras and media will move on. And I and his family, friends and colleauges will be left with the trauma and unanswered questions. But I am heartened that the world is paying attention. The question is-- will we get justice for Jamal? For Yemen? For the jailed reformers and activists? I pray so. -Karen

Mr_Boneman21 karma

Do you have any pieces of work from his writings that you would recommend or what he would want us to read to get a better understanding of the conflicts between him and the Saudi Govt?

washingtonpost22 karma

You can access all of the writing Jamal did for this Post here. It is the best primer on what he had to say about Saudi Arabia. - Jason

OJPimps0n15 karma


What is WaPo doing to keep this from disappearing from the news and the modern 24 hour news cycle? Basically what is WaPo doing to make sure this topic does not drift away from the limelight without answers being given by SA specifically?

washingtonpost18 karma

Relentlessly reporting on it and offering new insights and perspectives everyday. - Jason

DinoRiders10 karma

Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA. What do you think the next steps are for the Washington Post from this experience? Khashoggi was a huge critic of SA. Will this spark you all to push forward, or has this frightened a lot of people within the organisation to take a step back?

washingtonpost17 karma

We aren't frightened. I have been told to worry for my safety, which I take seriously, but I'm not going to be silent. We will continue what Jamal started, which is provide platforms for people who want to speak the truth and stand up for the rights of others to express themselves. We will continue to translate into Arabic and other languages. The Arab world in particular is in need of free expression-- as jamal wrote in his last column. We hope people will look to how we are dealing with this case as an example to stand up for journalists and free expression. I realize not many other papers have the same reach and privilege we do, but with power comes responsibility, and thats to demand answers and justice. -Karen

noreallyitstrue_10 karma

How would you respond to the people who are saying this is none of our business because he was not a US citizen?

washingtonpost28 karma

  1. He was our colleague.
  2. He was a US person. The government has a responsibility to anyone who lives and works here legally.
  3. Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are close US allies. We have to have a position.

Thanks everyone for all the great questions. I'm signing off..


jinnyjinster8 karma

Thank you so much for all of your hard work, and thank you for doing this AMA in what must be an incredibly difficult time.

How are you guys doing with what must be a traumatic and disorienting way to lose a colleague?

washingtonpost9 karma

Thanks for this question that reminds us that we are human too. It's been very difficult, but seeing the way my Washington Post colleagues from all parts of the organization have come together to continue to report on this, but also the way our leadership as committed to finding answers has been very heartening to me, personally. - Jason

questions22ask7 karma

How possible do you think that MBS will resign?

washingtonpost19 karma

I'm not an expert in Saudi affairs, but I doubt very highly he will resign of his own free will. In my experience, that's not usually how people with absolute power operate even in the face of international outrage. - Jason

AUTOHAWK232 karma

Jason- do you think that Iran will have a regime change in your lifetime?

washingtonpost15 karma

Good question. I think the people of Iran will get a much more representative government in my lifetime, but if and how the theocracy will be totally abolished I'm not sure. - Jason

saintjeremy1 karma

Guys, a note of kind thanks for the work that you do. I feel that sometimes journalists don't get the thanks for their work and are lumped in with the agency they work for as a means to insult or discredit.

I'd like to know if any of you see changes in what, or how journalists are reporting as a consequence of the vitriol being hurled at your profession?

washingtonpost2 karma

From what I see, it's inspired journalists working here in Washington to be more vociferous in their reporting, but I worry the effects on journalists working in other countries has been far more chilling. - Jason

KSA_88-15 karma

How did you work with Jamal? He merely wrote a couple articles over WoPo from his home and wasn’t a full time employee not even a quarter time employee unless I am wrong?

washingtonpost11 karma

The Global Opinions section is a brand new section in which we aim to recruit prominent voices from around the world. Jamal was one of my first big recruits. What people need to understand about being an editor and having writers is that we work very closely together. It's a very intimate relationship. He lived in the area and we met many times for meetings, lunches, and coffees. We were constantly in Whatsapp communications, and we were always discussing ideas. I saw him more often than I see other WaPo colleagues. The tragedy of all of this is that we only had a year together, but the articles he wrote made a big impact. And we were planning to do so much more. -Karen