US silence on Khashoggi ‘not an option’, says UN rapporteur

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2014, file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. A New York-based organization dedicated to the safety of journalists says the number killed worldwide in reprisal for their work , including Khashoggi, nearly doubled this year. Khashoggi was one of 53 journalists killed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, 2018, the committee said. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

The US must act on a report into Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death last October, a UN expert has warned.

“Silence is not an option. Speaking up is required but not enough. We have to act,” Agnes Callamard said.

Her inquiry concluded that Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul was “an extrajudicial execution”.

The US should conduct an FBI or civil law investigation, she said. Khashoggi was based in the US and wrote a column for the Washington Post newspaper.

Speaking alongside Khashoggi’s fiancée at a conference in London on Tuesday, Callamard urged the US to declassify its intelligence on the killing and said Washington was “not at the top of the co-operation chain”.

Callamard’s 101-page report, published in June, said there was “credible evidence” that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials were individually liable for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi agents killed the journalist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but authorities insist they were not acting on Prince Mohammed’s orders.

Callamard is not a representative for the UN but reports her findings to it. She has called on UN Secretary General António Guterres to instigate an international criminal investigation into the case, but he said only a member state has authority to do so.

She said the West was facing a “democratic deficit” in not responding to a public outcry about the killing.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, called on European countries to “take this report more seriously”.

“It’s too dangerous to behave as if nothing has happened,” she said.