Government-backed Saudi Arabian media outlets are trying to portray the disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a “conspiracy” targeting the kingdom.
Commenting on Khashoggi’s vanishing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the Al Arabiya news channel said claims of his detention inside the facility had been pushed by “media outlets affiliated with the outlawed [pan-Arab opposition party] Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar.”
Another story on Al Arabiya cast doubt on the identity of Khashoggi’s fiancée, who was waiting outside the consulate at the time. It asked whether Hatice Cengiz was truly the person she said she was, claiming that her Twitter profile showed she had followed “critics of Saudi Arabia.”
A column in the Saudi daily Okaz argued that Khashoggi had been advancing the interests of Qatar. The column went on to claim that Qatar had a “50 percent ownership of The [Washington] Post and has influence over its editorial direction.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies broke off diplomatic ties with Qatar last year. The Saudi media has been leading a smear campaign against the emirate since the diplomatic crisis broke out.
The Post, where the Saudi journalist would maintain a column, is privately owned by American billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Another Okaz piece claimed in an item titled, “Who Liberated Khashoggi?” that the critic was a “terrorist sympathizer,” whose sectarian goals were designed to destabilize the Saudi government.
The feature suggested that Khashoggi’s disappearance equaled “liberation,” since he had been “kidnapped” by “extremist groups” while living abroad in self-imposed exile.
The Saudi Gazette wrote that any fears about Khashoggi’s disappearance had to be blamed on Qatar, not Saudi Arabia.
CCTV footage has shown entry into the consulate in Istanbul by 15 Saudis on the same day of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The Post reported earlier this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had personally ordered an “operation” against critic, which would see him lured back to the kingdom and arrested.