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ISTANBUL – Friends of the disappeared Saudi writer, Jamal Khashoggi, have it described as being deeply fearful of the rulers of his country and being targeted by the mighty Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the months leading up to his demise.
The Turkish authorities claim to believe that Khashoggi, journalist and critic of Saudi politics, was . killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul last week, according to a complaint denied by the authorities of the kingdom of the Persian Gulf.
Barnett Rubin, Senior Research Associate at the Center for International Cooperation, New York University, met Khashoggi almost 30 years ago. his friend had thought that the Crown Prince was a threat.
"The child is dangerous," wrote Khashoggi in an email in September 2017, according to Rubin, referring to the prince. "I am under pressure from my wife and friends to be wise and to be quiet. I think I should speak with wisdom.
A prominent journalist once close to the restricted circle of the great Saudi royal family, Khashoggi exiled to the United States after Salman replaced his eldest cousin, Prince, the Prince Muhammad. bin Nayef as Crown Prince in June 2017. In the United States, Kashoggi became a contributor to the Washington Post.
Mohammed bin Salman 33-year-old son of King Salman, was at first commended international efforts to reform the economy of his oil-dependent country and modernize the deeply traditional society. The President The White House of Donald Trump took him in his arms and Saudi Arabia was the place of his first trip.
The attention of the international community has focused on Arabia The widespread crackdown on dissent d & # 39; Arabia, although the prince is supposed to be popular at home.
The crackdown by the Crown Prince included death sentences for three prominent clerics – an unprecedented move – and the arrest of women's rights activists. When Canada criticized the treatment of militant women in August Saudi Arabia blamed the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador by removing his own emissary from Ottawa and others. punitive measures.
Randa Slim, director of conflict resolution at the Middle East Institute in Washington, recounted that when Khashoggi was still in Saudi Arabia, he received a call from "a close friend of Mohammed bin Salman … who basically said, "You can not tweet, you can not go on TV, you can not write – period. "
The situation has changed dramatically after the detention of some of the country's most powerful princes and businessmen in the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, in September 2017," he said. Slim, who had met Khashoggi for the first time in 2012. Group Discussion on the Middle East.
"I think that he felt after that." there are no more limits, "she said." There were some red lines that Saudi leaders had never crossed in the past, especially with regard to the way in which they treated the princes and other members of the royal family, and that these red lines were crossed. "
" After that, he became very aware that it was going to be very difficult. "
Slim stated that the situation had a considerable impact on Kashoggi and that he was worried for his fami in Saudi Arabia. The government imposed a travel ban on his son, for example.
"He was so alone that he was missing so much at home," said Slim. "He paid a personal price, and it weighed a lot."
But she says that her desire to write outweighed her homesickness.
"It was very difficult for him to consider that he already existed., Living without the freedom to write and publish, no matter what the consequences," he said. she said, adding that during her last visit in the spring, Khashoggi had stopped going to a Washington mosque linked to the Saudi government.
Before his death, Khashoggi wrote a column of opinion in Washington Post in which he criticized the imprisonment of clerics, businessmen and academics, among others.
Khashoggi criticized the war waged by the Saudis in Yemen. , which helped to create what many aid groups call the world 's biggest humanitarian crisis, a dangerous break with fellow countryman Qatar, the spitting with Canada and l'; arrest of women's rights activists.
Khasho ggi also wrote about the diffi cult cults granting certain freedoms to the Saudis while silencing them.
"Let us allude to rulings from our leaders, to our vision of our future, in exchange for the right to live and travel freely – for us and our wives, husbands and wives children too? "he asked in a column in May .
He added: "It was said that I had to accept with gratitude the social reforms that I had long been asking to keep quiet about other subjects – since the quagmire of Yemen to hastily implemented economic reforms, the blockade of Qatar, talks on an alliance with Israel to counter Iran and the imprisonment of dozens of Saudi intellectuals and clerics; ;last year ".
He was also concerned about how the families of the critics were targeted, said Noor Haddad, a Syrian journalist in Istanbul, who interviewed Khashoggi last month.
"What really displeased him was the repression of the opposition, but not only the opposition, they extended it to their families," he said. she declared.
According to friends, Khashoggi was also fearful in his new home in Washington.
A friend said that, for safety As a precaution, Khashoggi would send an SMS when he entered and left the Saudi Embassy in Washington.
"He was afraid to come in. He was scared even in Washington, "said the friend, who spoke under the guise of anonymity because she feared that, if she commented publicly, Saudi Arabia would try to twisting his words for propaganda purposes.
The disappearance of Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul appears to have occurred then was seeking divorce papers he needed for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman, told NBC News four people aware of his situation.
Khashoggi had sought the necessary documents from the Saudi Embassy in Washington., but had was directed to the consul ate in Istanbul, which caused his fiance to fear that he would be lured into a trap, said a friend of Khashoggi.After attending the consulate in Istanbul, he was invited to come back another day, have declared two others C & # 39;. was during this return visit that Khashoggi has disappeared, they said.
Another Saudi critic stated that the disappearance of a man who was once close to the most powerful Saudi men was a sign of a worsening crisis in the Gulf Kingdom.