The Slatest

Jamal Khashoggi’s Washington Post Editor on Saudi Statement: “Utter Bulls––t”

Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London on Sept. 29, 2018.
Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London on Sept. 29, 2018. Middle East Monitor/Handout via REUTERS

Jamal Khashoggi’s editor at the Washington Post has emerged as one of the strongest voices demanding to find out the truth about what happened to the journalist who was a columnist for the newspaper. Shortly after Saudi Arabia released a statement finally acknowledging that Khashoggi died inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, but claiming it was the result of a fistfight, Karen Attiah did not mince words about what she thought: “Utter bullshit,” she wrote on Twitter.

Attiah said that the Saudi explanation was “almost insulting” but pointed out that even if someone was willing to give the country the benefit of the doubt there are several key unanswered questions: “1) Then what happened to the body? 2) Why did officials lie say and he left the consulate? 3) What evidence do they have to support that there was a fistfight?”

Attiah also noted that part of the infuriating aspect of the Saudi statement was “the use of the passive construction to imply this was an accident.” Plus, Khashoggi was 60 years old. “What sort of equal ‘fight’ would he have had against 15 other men? And who brings a bone saw to a ‘discussion’?!” Attiah wrote. “The stupidity of the Saudi explanation is mind boggling….”

Attiah talked to the New York Times earlier this week and explained the process of bringing Khashoggi on board as a columnist. “His first column for us blew up. It spiked in traffic,” she said. “That’s when we realized we had a force on our hands.” She also explained that at least part of the reason why she was being so vocal was because if “it was his words at The Post that perhaps put him at risk, I feel that responsibility.” Attiah also emphasized a kinship she feels with Khashoggi as a friend and colleague. “Even though he wasn’t full-time in the building, Jamal was one of us,” she said. “This is not an attack just on him. It’s an attack on us.”

On Saturday, the Post published a recording of a previously unreleased conversation between Khashoggi, Attiah, and Jason Rezaian, a columnist who writes for the Post about Iran.