Silent vigils for the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi were held by the National Union of Journalists last night outside the Saudi embassies in London and Dublin.
The memorial services were held after Hatice Cengiz, the fianceé of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, told US broadcaster ABC news earlier this week that her husband-to-be “did not want to go” to the Saudi consulate in Turkey, which he was last seen entering on 2 October.
At a memorial service held in London on Monday night, Cengiz said she believed Saudi Arabia knew where her husband’s body was located and described Khashoggi as a “martyr”.
The New York Times and Washington Post reported claims earlier this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the White House he believed Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist in an alleged phone call following his disappearance.
Khashoggi, 59, was killed on 2 October after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey, where he sought marriage documents. A Turkish prosecutor has claimed that he was strangled on entering the building and later dismembered and disposed of.
The Saudi regime has changed its version of events several times. It first claimed he left the consulate alive, later asserting that he died in a fist-fight when footage emerged of another man appearing to wear Khashoggi’s clothes.
The Saudi Attorney General has since claimed the journalist was killed by agents in an unsanctioned “rogue operation”. The kingdom has said it has arrested 18 men in connection with his death.
In a statement on the Khashoggi vigils, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet (pictured) said: “This vigil is to mark the contribution to journalism and principled values of Jamal Khashoggi and to protest to the Saudi authorities, implicated in his murder, of our deep shock and anger at his violent killing.
“The current spectacle of world leaders targeting journalists and their work is something that should unite us in outrage.
“Media workers being used as pawns in geopolitical game-playing or exploited as political leverage is disgraceful and unacceptable.”
Following revelations around the killing of Khashoggi, ITV’s head of commissioning for comedy and entertainment has apologised for turning up to a celebrity Halloween party dressed as a Saudi executioner.
The Daily Mail revealed ITV’s comedy boss Asif Zubairy was the man in the blood splattered Middle Eastern outfit carrying a severed hand.
Speaking to the paper, he said: “I’m a private individual who attended a private party. I realise my Halloween costume may have offended some people, for which I apologise.”
Press Gazette has asked ITV if disciplinary action will be taken against Zubairy, but has not yet received a response.
Picture: National Union of Journalists