Entertainment

Saudi crown prince responsible for journalist's murder, filmmaker believes

Oscar-winning director Bryan Fogel's latest film is The Dissident, which explores the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi Crown Prince was responsible for the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the director of a film about the death believes.

In a killing that sparked worldwide revulsion, the Washington Post journalist, who had been critical of Mohammed bin Salman, was butchered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi authorities have since sentenced five people to death for the murder, but that verdict was condemned by critics as a “mockery” amid claims those who masterminded the plot escaped justice.

Prince Mohammed has been accused of personally ordering the killing, with the US senate passing a resolution saying he is responsible, the CIA reportedly coming to the same conclusion and a UN report finding there was “credible evidence” implicating him.

The prince denies the allegations.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Bryan Fogel’s latest project is The Dissident, a documentary exploring Mr Khashoggi’s murder.

Jamal Khashoggi
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which sparked outrage around the world, is being explored in a new documentary (Johnny Green/PA)

Speaking at the film’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, he told the PA news agency he believed the CIA’s reported findings and the UN’s conclusion.

“If all of them are saying he ordered this murder, then I tend to believe that he did,” he said.

“And when you add up all the pieces, there doesn’t appear to me to be anyone else in the world who could’ve ordered this murder.

“Especially how a kingdom, a monarchy, works, with him being at the top.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been accused of ordering Mr Khashoggi’s killing (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

The 59-year-old Mr Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi royal family, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 2018.

He was attacked by a team of Saudi agents when he went to pick up documents which would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, in an incident that attracted widespread condemnation.

In all, 11 people were put on trial in Saudi Arabia for the murder – described by authorities there as a “rogue operation” – although their names have not been made public.

In addition to those sentenced to death, three others were given jail terms totalling 24 years.

President Donald Trump condemned the killing but has stood by the prince while defending US-Saudi ties.

Bryan Fogel
Bryan Fogel, right, has directed a documentary exploring the murder of a dissident journalist (Ian West/PA)

Fogel, who won the best documentary feature Oscar for 2017’s Icarus, a film about Russian doping, said the West’s perceived inaction against the Saudi regime was financially motivated.

“What you’re seeing is that money and big business rule all,” he said.

“And in the face of human rights, and in the face of murder, a cover-up, that if there’s trillions of dollars at stake and weapons sales and all the other intricacies of that region, those politics are going to conquer justice.”

The Dissident was financed by the Human Rights Foundation and is being screened at Sundance – the annual international film festival in the US state of Utah – to prospective buyers.

It remains to be seen if a major studio or streaming company will pick it up, given the global clout of oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Fogel, who denied receiving death threats over the film, said he made the documentary to get justice for Mr Khashoggi.

“And to try to help cement Jamal’s legacy as who he was and what he was fighting for and that’s why I decided to take this film on,” he said.

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