WhatsApps to a fellow exile criticising Mohammed bin Salman were allegedly hacked by the Saudis two months before his death.
Jamal Khashoggi was killed after going into the consulate on 2 October
Jamal Khashoggi was killed after going into Istanbul’s Saudi consulate on 2 October
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi feared Saudi’s crown prince would target him two months before he was killed, texts to a fellow exile have revealed.
WhatsApp messages to Omar Abdulaziz, who was granted political asylum in Canada in 2014, show the extent of Mr Khashoggi’s fear of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, not just for himself but for all Saudis.
The texts, which Mr Abdulaziz believes were seen by the Saudi government when it hacked their phones in August, show the private angst and worry Mr Khashoggi, who was also living in exile, kept relatively under wraps in his public criticism of the kingdom and its ruler.
Mr Khashoggi was killed in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate on 2 October this year, after entering to get documents to marry his Turkish fiancee, with many pointing the finger at the crown prince – something he denies.
In more than 400 messages between October 2017 and August 2018, seen by CNN, the Washington Post journalist talks about the Mr bin Salman being a “beast” and a “‘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,” he wrote after a group of female Saudi activists were arrested for campaigning for the right to drive.
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He also texted: “He loves force, oppression and needs to show them off, but tyranny has no logic.”
Calling the crown prince a tyrant could be considered treason in Saudi, a crime that can be punishable with beheading by sword in public.
The messages show how the two dissidents went from talking about their concerns over MBS to planning a youth digital rebellion to hold the Saudi state to account.
They called it the “cyber bees” and the pair believed using the internet was the only way to rise up against the government.
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Mr Abdulaziz, 27, told CNN: “We have no parliament, we just have Twitter.
“Twitter is the only tool they’re using to fight and to spread their rumours.
“We’ve been attacked, we’ve been insulted, we’d been threatened so many times, and we decided to do something.”
But in August they believed their conversations were intercepted by the Saudi authorities, with Mr Abdulaziz filing a lawsuit on Sunday against an Israeli software company he believes was used to hack his phone with military-grade software.
When the alleged hack happened, Mr Khashoggi wrote to Mr Abdulaziz: “God help us.”
Two months later the journalist was dead.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say. The guilt is killing me,” Mr Abdulaziz told CNN