Nobel laureate honors slain journalist Khashoggi at Saudi event

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A Nobel laureate called for a moment of silence to honor the memory of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi while delivering the keynote speech to a virtual global forum hosted by Saudi Arabia, in video remarks that were later removed.

Joseph Stiglitz, an American economist and 2001 recipient of the Nobel Prize, delivered the keynote address on Saturday to the Think 20 (T20) conference. He called for a moment of silence for Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 after arriving to retrieve documents for a marriage license.

The T20 is the research and policy network of the Group of 20 (G-20) global forum, a gathering of the world’s major and developing economies. The T20 and the G-20 are both being virtually hosted by Saudi Arabia this year.  

Stiglitz, during his keynote address on Saturday, also called for Saudi Arabia to be held accountable for its record on human rights.  

“With this meeting being … hosted by Saudi Arabia, as we reflect on these basic rights, we cannot pause but a moment and think of a great journalist, like Khashoggi, mercilessly killed with those behind the perpetration of this heinous crime, having impunity,” Mr. Stiglitz said towards the end of his remarks. 

He spoke about the imprisonment of prominent Saudi women’s rights activists, held since 2018, despite scrutiny by human rights organizations who have raised the alarm over allegations of torture and authorities barring outside communication.  

“We cannot help but think of the woman being held in prison, simply for the desire to exercise their rights as human beings,” Stiglitz continued.

“If this meeting does not come to terms with the violations of these human rights and those in other countries around the world, it cannot hope to achieve inclusive societies for which we all strive. Let us pause for a moment of silence and memory of Jamal Khashoggi, and in honor of all those women. All these people being held in prison and in respect of the  sacrifices they have made in quest of an inclusive world.” 

The recording of the entire day’s events was unavailable after the conclusion of the live recordings but only selected tweets, and in particular links related to Stiglitz’s remarks, returned a “404 error” on Twitter.

Other tweets promoting speakers and linking to the full day’s recording of events linked to a tweet with a video box that said “The broadcast has ended.” 

The video content and recordings of sessions were also unavailable on the T20 platform in its library, despite the claims in its frequently asked questions section that the video content would remain on the platform after the summit ended.

Reached for comment, the T20 media team said that the video of the event will be delivered later in the month in high-definition format.

“We are currently awaiting delivery of our HD recordings and will be rolling out releases later in the month,” they wrote in an email.  

Stiglitz’s remarks were preserved online by the organization Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), who accused the T20 of censoring Stiglitz’s remarks by removing them from social media. 

DAWN is the nonprofit organization Khashoggi founded before he was killed and is part of his activism that is believed to have been a pretext for his murder.

“And here it is! The *uncensored* #T20 keynote speech by @JosephEStiglitz lambasting #Saudi government for grotesque rights abuses. No hiding #MBS!” Sarah Leah Whitson, DAWN’s executive director, wrote on Twitter, sharing Stiglitz’s remarks.


U.S. intelligence services in 2018 concluded that the attack on Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of the Saudi government, was personally ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

DAWN, along with Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz, filed suit last month in federal court in the District of Columbia against Crown Prince bin Salman and other Saudi officials for monetary damages related to Khashoggi’s murder.

But the crown prince has avoided any scrutiny from President Trump, who reportedly told veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward that he blocked efforts in Congress to hold the crown prince accountable for Khashoggi’s murder. 

The U.S. did impose sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals for having a role in the killing of Khashoggi.

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