Murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in private messages referred to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as a “beast,” a “pac-man” who devours his enemies, and raised concerns that the royal would eventually turn on his supporters, a report said Monday.
Khashoggi, whose writings for the Washington Post were often highly critical of the royal family, exchanged more than 400 WhatsApp messages with an exiled activist in Montreal in the year before he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October.
“Arrests are unjustified and do not serve him (logic says), but tyranny has no logic, but he loves force, oppression and needs to show them off,” Khashoggi wrote in one of the messages, obtained by CNN. “He is like a beast ‘pac man’ the more victims he eats, the more he wants. I will not be surprised that the oppression will reach even those who are cheering him, then others and others and so on. God knows.”
The message sent in May referred to Saudi Arabia arresting four female activists who waged a campaign to get the kingdom to allow women to drive.
They were charged with, among other crimes, “providing financial support to hostile elements outside the country.”
Khashoggi’s messages were shared with CNN by Omar Abdulaziz, and also contain voice recordings, photos and videos.
Abdulaziz said Khashoggi was concerned about the power wielded by the prince and was working on creating an online movement to hold the Saudi royal family accountable for its actions.
“[Jamal] believed that MBS is the issue, is the problem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdulaziz said in an interview with CNN, using the prince’s initials.
Khashoggi in August believed that their communications had been intercepted by Saudi officials and feared the worst.
“God help us,” he wrote.
Two months later, he was dead.
Abdulaziz sued an Israeli surveillance company on Sunday, saying it created software that Saudi officials used to hack his phone.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” he told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”
“The spying that was directed against (Abdulaziz) and the disclosure of the content of the conversations and messages between him and Khashoggi through the system contributed in a tangible way to the decision to assassinate Mr. Khashoggi by the assassins at the consulate,” says the lawsuit against NSO Group filed in a Tel Aviv court.
In a statement, NSO Group said its software enables “governments and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.”
It went on to say it would not tolerate “misuse of our products.”
Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2 at the consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia eventually said he was killed by a team of men trying to return him to the kingdom and claim the crown price had no knowledge of the crime.
But the CIA has concluded that the royal orchestrated the writer’s death.
President Trump has been criticized for failing to hold the prince accountable, doubting the CIA’s findings and saying, “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”
With Post wires
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