Activists, journalists hold vigil outside Saudi Embassy in DC on Khashoggi anniversary
© Cameron Hill

Activists and journalists gathered outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., Wednesday evening to hold a vigil marking the first anniversary of the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE (D-Md.) spoke at the vigil, one of many held at Saudi missions worldwide, and condemned Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE’s relationship with the Saudi leader.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi was a political hit by a tyrant,” Raskin said. “The crown prince is a despot, and according to U.S. intelligence, a murderer who has set himself against the rule of law and against free societies all over the world.”

“The fact that Donald Trump is protecting him is a scandal and an outrage and it will not stand,” Raskin added.

Trump has not substantively criticized Saudi Arabia or the crown prince over the slaying of the journalist, who was a critic of the royal family, at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The CIA has concluded that the Crown Prince Mohammed was personally involved in the hit.

The crown prince has denied having a role in the killing, and Riyadh has reportedly put 11 people on trial for the crime in nonpublic proceedings.

In a brief interview with The Hill, Raskin said Trump was neglecting his duties as president.

A U.S. president “should uphold the rule of law and oppose governments that assassinate their own citizens. That’s a pretty low bar,” Raskin said.

Courtney Radsch, advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), hosted the vigil in partnership with other groups supporting press freedom, including the National Press Club and Amnesty International.

“We have learned that, despite pressure from Congress and the public, the Trump administration will not hold the Saudi regime accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi because [Trump] views them as too valuable a business partner,” Radsch said.

“This inaction sends the message not just to Saudi Arabia, but to governments around the world, that killing journalists is acceptable. It is not,” she added. “The public deserves to know the truth, and governments around the world must know that the murders of journalists will not go unpunished.”

Radsch said CPJ is suing the U.S. government for the release of documents that might reveal whether the U.S. intelligence community had knowledge of threats to Khashoggi before he was killed.

“We’d certainly like to see the Trump administration reply to Congress’s request for information about what was known, as required under the Magnitsky law, so we can know who to hold accountable,” Radsch said in a brief interview with The Hill, referring to the Global Magnitsky Act, a 2016 law that allows U.S. sanctions of foreign officials who have committed offenses against human rights.

“We’d like to see Congress pass a bill that will make sure that this information is provided, and that information about what intelligence was known and whether there was a duty to warn and whether the government fulfilled that duty to warn,” she added.