Lawmakers mark 100 days since Khashoggi’s death with press freedom event

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Lawmakers gathered Thursday to mark 100 days since the disappearance of slain Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and underscore the important of the freedom of the press.

Democrats and Republicans delivered remarks at a press freedom event at the Capitol, decrying Khashoggi’s murder and calling for accountability. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the journalist’s killing “an atrocity and an affront to humanity.”

“The assault on Khashoggi was an assault on our democratic principles and our democracy, really,” she said. “And we in America have to stand up very strongly so the rest of the world sees that regardless of the commercial transactions, whatever they may be, or even strategic location, is not a license to a kill – not a license to kill.”

{mosads}Pelosi appeared to swipe the Trump administration’s handling to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s death, warning that the U.S. has “no moral authority to talk about moral atrocities” if it allows commercial interests to influence its response to such incidents.

That sentiment was echoed by Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan, who told attendees that “we should not allow the size of a tyrant’s checkbook to blind us to the importance of standing up for our values.”

The Washington Post reported that GOP Rep. Will Hurd (Texas) said that Khashoggi’s killing has reminded a number of his constituents of the importance of a free press.

Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of Saudi leadership and columnist for the Washington Post, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. His remains have not been found.

Saudi leadership has offered changing explanations for what happened to the U.S.-based Khashoggi, at first denying knowledge of the incident and later claiming he died in a physical altercation gone wrong. Saudi authorities arrested 18 people in connection with Khashoggi’s death.

Turkish officials and U.S. lawmakers have said they believe high-ranking Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were responsible for planning and carrying out Khashoggi’s killing. 

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution last month deeming the crown prince “responsible” for Khashoggi’s death.

The Trump administration has sanctioned individuals believed to be connected to Khashoggi’s death, but president has cited the importance of economic and diplomatic ties with the kingdom in opting not to levy further punishment.

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