News Guild, others discuss moves after Khashoggi murder
People hold signs during a protest at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

WASHINGTON – The News Guild and 29 other news and journalism groups are discussing their next moves to pressure both the U.S. and the Saudi governments after the murder of outspoken dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But News Guild President Bernie Lunzer added, in a brief telephone interview, that he does not expect much of a response from the GOP Trump administration.

“I’m sure they’re not going to come up with the truth at the White House,” he said.

Khashoggi, a frequent contributing columnist – not a regular staffer — for the Guild-represented Washington Post, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to pick up paperwork for his marriage to a Turkish woman. He never emerged alive. She did not go in.

Khashoggi’s final and posthumous column headlined “What the Arab world needs most: Free expression,” declares: “The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed…More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices.”

Turkey said it has an audio of Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment. It hasn’t shared the audio with U.S. officials, though. And Trump has waffled – at best — on Saudi responsibility for his murder, frequently retreating to saying Saudi relations with the U.S. on fighting terrorism and on oil are more important.

The 30 groups, including the News Guild, wrote the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., demanding “a full investigation” of Khashoggi’s disappearance before the disappearance was renamed a murder. A team of 15 was sent from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul for the killing.

Besides the letter, The News Guild is asking its parent union, the Communications Workers, to have members urge lawmakers to commit to a free and full investigation of the crime. Khashoggi fled to the U.S. several years ago under pressure from the Saudi monarchical government.

“The threat of violence, kidnapping or death to journalists seeking truth and reporting it is dangerous to freedom and democracy,” the joint letter said. “It is important that officials do everything in their power to” discover what happened to Khashoggi “and hold those responsible for his disappearance accountable.”

Lunzer is not the only one who expects little from Trump in the Khashoggi murder case. The president’s close relationship with Saudi leaders, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the nation’s de facto ruler, combined with the top-down nature of the Saudi government, set off alarm bells elsewhere.

After reviewing earlier intelligence on the case, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told the Post the Trump administration “clamped down” on sharing information about Khashoggi’s fate.

“Everything points not just to Saudi Arabia, but to MBS,” the crown prince’s nickname, Corker said. “This could not have happened without his approval.”

“As much as the White House is eager to absolve MBS, the rogue cover-up” of Khashoggi’s murder “is unraveling before it’s even official,” retired CIA Saudi Arabia analyst Bruce Riedel also told the paper.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.