Pakistan’s interior ministry ordered investigations into six journalists who had posted pictures online of murdered Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Monday. The investigations had been ordered in a letter dated March 13 from the cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency, part of the interior ministry, the group said in a statement. According to RSF, the FIA letter named the journalists as part of what it called “a targeted social media campaign” against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during his visit to Pakistan in February.
RSF said it was “appalled” to learn of the investigations, adding that it “condemns this latest case of intimidation, especially given the Pakistani police’s past behaviour towards dissident journalists”.
Earlier there were reports that some members of the team that brutally killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi received training in the United States. Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, was killed and dismembered on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has not been recovered yet.
After having denied the murder, Saudi Arabia said the operation was carried out by agents who were out of control. A trial of 11 suspects opened earlier this year in Saudi Arabia. But much of the case remains shrouded, beginning with the role of country’s powerful crown prince and de facto ruler Salman.
The US Senate, after a closed-door briefing by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), adopted a resolution naming the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as ‘responsible’ for the murder, while US President Donald Trump has refused to publicly take a stand.
According to David Ignatius - Washington Post columnist, a Saudi who closely read the transcript of a recording from a bug placed in the consulate by Turkish intelligence said it indicates the plan was to kidnap Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for detention and interrogation.
A note in the transcript says an injection was administered to Khashoggi, which the Saudi source said was probably a powerful sedative.
A bag was then placed over his head, and Khashoggi screamed: "I can't breathe, I have asthma. Don't do this." According to the Post, he died soon after.
The transcript describes a buzzing noise, perhaps an electric saw used to dismember the journalist.