Friday 23 August 2019

Saudi royal family 'give murdered journalist's children $4m homes'

Victim: Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team in Istanbul. Photo: Getty Images
Victim: Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team in Istanbul. Photo: Getty Images

Greg Miller

The children of murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi have received million-dollar houses in the kingdom and monthly five-figure payments as compensation for the killing of their father.

Current and former Saudi officials and people close to the family have also claimed Mr Khashoggi's two sons and daughters may also receive much larger payouts - possibly tens of millions of dollars each - as part of "blood money" negotiations expected to follow when the trials of their father's accused killers are completed in the coming months.

The previously undisclosed payments are part of an effort by Saudi Arabia to reach a long-term arrangement with the Khashoggi family, aimed at ensuring they continue to show restraint in their public statements about the killing of their father in Istanbul six months ago, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

The Khashoggi siblings have refrained from any harsh criticism of the kingdom even as their father's death provoked global outrage and widespread condemnation of heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The delivery of homes and monthly payments of $10,000 or more to each sibling were approved late last year by King Salman as part of what one former official described as an acknowledgment "a big injustice has been done" and an attempt "to make a wrong right".

But the royal family is also relying on its wealth to help contain the ongoing fallout from the killing and dismemberment of the prominent Saudi journalist and 'Washington Post' columnist who was targeted for articles often critical of the government.

A Saudi official described the payments as being consistent with the country's long-standing practise of providing financial support to victims of violent crime or even natural disasters and rejected the suggestion that the Khashoggi family would be obligated to remain silent. "Such support is part of our custom and culture," the official said. "It is not attached to anything else."

As part of their preliminary settlement, the Khashoggi children were each given houses in Jiddah worth as much as $4m (€3.6m).

The properties are part of a shared compound in which Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son, occupies the main house.

A banker in Jeddah, Salah is the only Khashoggi sibling who intends to continue living in Saudi Arabia, according to people close to the family. The others reside in the United States and are expected to sell their new Saudi properties.

Salah, who has been responsible for financial discussions with Saudi authorities, declined to comment. His desire to remain in Jeddah with his family has contributed to the siblings' deference to the authorities and caution in their public statements over the past six months.

In October, the Saudi government released photos of Salah shaking hands with Mohammed, an image that was meant to show the crown prince offering condolences but was widely seen as an indication of the coercive power the royal family was exerting on Mr Khashoggi's children.

The writer's two daughters, Noha and Razan, published an essay in 'The Washington Post' last year in which they described their father's hopes for changes in Saudi Arabia but emphasised he was "no dissident" and did not accuse the crown prince or other Saudi officials of being culpable in his death.

Noha did not respond to a request for comment, and Razan could not be reached.

The monthly schedule of payments and prospect of eventual multi-million dollar settlements would appear to give the Khashoggis a long-term financial incentive to remain quiet even as human rights organisations and critics of Saudi Arabia continue to demand accountability from the kingdom.

'Washington Post' publisher Fred Ryan issued a statement on Monday, six months after Mr Khashoggi's death, saying the Saudis "have adopted a strategy of evasion" that has "scapegoated expendable officials, seeking to quell international furore by staging a sham trial".

© Washington Post

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