Pompeo dismisses Khashoggi as ‘activist’ whose murder was exaggerated by the media

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In a new book, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ridicules the idea that Jamal Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post who was brutally murdered in 2018, was a journalist. Instead, Pompeo sympathizes with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, and has been a long-standing advocate of the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia.

In “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” published on Tuesday, Pompeo said Khashoggi did not deserve to die and called his killing “outrageous, unacceptable, horrible.” However, he goes on for several more pages to mock the “disproportionate global outcry” over Khashoggi’s death, arguing that Khashoggi was an “activist”, not a journalist, whose death was “hammered” disproportionately by an overly sympathetic media.

“Just as the media spent years trying to drive a wedge between me and President Trump, they spent the next few weeks trying to break America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Pompeo wrote. “The progressive left hates MBS, despite his leading the greatest cultural reform in the kingdom’s history. He will prove to be one of the most important leaders of his time, a truly historic figure on the world stage.”

Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, while visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents that would allow him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Saudi agents dismembered Khashoggi’s body inside the consulate and his remains were never found.

In the months leading up to that visit, Khashoggi wrote columns for The Washington Post that were highly critical of the crown prince, who effectively rules Saudi Arabia and has cracked down on rivals and dissidents.

Pompeo, who is reportedly exploring a 2024 presidential run, also made the allegation in his book that Khashoggi was “a friend of the Muslim Brotherhood who supports terrorists,” an accusation that both Khashoggi’s family – and Khashoggi himself, when he was alive – repeatedly denied. .

“Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person at all. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous,” Khashoggi’s family told The Post in 2018.

On October 2, 2018, Saudi agents killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. What was done after that? (Video: Joyce Lee, Thomas LeGro, Dalton Bennett, John Parks/The Washington Post)

As the Post reported after Khashoggi’s death, that claim was indeed pushed by the crown prince, who spoke by phone with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-national security adviser John Bolton in the days after Khashoggi’s disappearance. Khashoggi. The crown prince told Kushner and Bolton that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist and urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the US-Saudi alliance.

The CIA concluded in 2018 that Mohammed had ordered Khashoggi’s death, contradicting Saudi Arabia’s insistence that the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the plot. However, in his book, Pompeo – who previously served as director of the CIA – seems to give Mohammed the benefit of the doubt about America’s own intelligence agencies.

“First, contrary to what has been reported, there is almost no intelligence that directly links MBS to the assassination order,” Pompeo wrote. “Secondly, I have met many people who have ordered assassinations. If MBS was proven to have ordered this one, it would just mean he was yet another ruthless leader in a pretty cruel part of the world.

In a statement on Tuesday, Fred Ryan, editor and CEO of The Washington Post, said it was “shocking and disappointing” to see Pompeo’s book “so egregiously misrepresent” Khashoggi’s life and work.

“His only offense was exposing corruption and oppression among those in power – work that good journalists around the world do every day,” Ryan wrote. “Jamal was dedicated to the values ​​of free speech and a free press and upheld the highest professional standards. For that devotion, he paid the ultimate price.”

“It is disgraceful that Pompeo would spread vile falsehoods to dishonor the life and service of a brave man – and his commitment to the principles Americans hold dear – as a ploy to sell books,” added Ryan.

In November, the Biden administration ruled that Mohammed, as the “acting head of government,” was immune from a civil lawsuit brought in the United States by Khashoggi’s fiancée and a human rights organization he founded.

In a letter accompanying the filing, State Department Acting Legal Counsel Richard C. Visek said the decision was legal and the department “has no opinion on the merits of the present proceeding and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the murder.” heinous from Jamal Khashoggi.”

Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, John Hudson, Souad Mekhennet, and Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.

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