The children of Jamal Khashoggi, the exiled Saudi journalist who was allegedly murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, have been given opulent homes and tens of thousands of dollars a month to guarantee their silence, the Washington Post reported Monday.
Khashoggi, who was a critic of the Saudi monarchy and a contributing columnist at the Post, disappeared after being seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. It is suspected that 15 Saudi agents were sent to kill him and dismembered his body – which was never found.
The payments to Khashoggi’s four children, two sons and two daughters, are part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to reach a long-term agreement with the family to keep them from speaking out, the Post reported, citing current and former Saudi officials and sources close to the Khashoggi family.
An official from the Saudi government is quoted in the report, denying the payments were meant to silence Khashoggi's children.
The homes are said to be in the Saudi port city of Jiddah and are reportedly worth up to $4 million each.
Salah Khashoggi, the late journalist’s elder son, plans to continue living in Saudi Arabia while the other siblings, who live in the United States, want to sell the homes, the Post said. In addition to the monthly payments, it is possible they have, or will, receive large lump sum payments as “blood money,” of possibly in the tens of millions of dollars, according to the report.
The Post also quoted a Saudi official who characterized the benefits provided to Khashoggi’s children as consistent with the Saudi government’s practice of providing support to victims of violent crime and denied the suggestion that the members of the family are obligated to remain silent in return.
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Western intelligence agencies have accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of being responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, but the Saudi government has denied any involvement in the matter – treating it as a criminal case in which only low-level figures have been arrested.
Despite the official denials, there were reports last month said that Crown Prince Mohammed had approved a secret campaign more than a year prior to Khashoggi’s death to silence opponents of the regime. It allegedly included the surveillance, kidnapping, arrest and torture of Saudi citizens.