Khashoggi death demands bold response from New Zealand, academic says

The New Zealand government must take a stand against Saudi Arabia following the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, says an academic who specialises in Middle Eastern politics.

The journalist was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, to pick up paperwork that would allow him to marry his fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

After two weeks of denials, the Saudi Arabian government has admitted Mr Khashoggi died in the consulate, though it has not said what happened to his body.

It claims the journalist died accidentally following a fight.

But Turkish officials have said he was deliberately killed inside the consulate, and his body dismembered.

A politics professor at Otago University, Bill Harris, said it was time New Zealand took urgent diplomatic action against Saudi Arabia.

"We should be making pressing consultations with partners along the lines of an international inquiry."

There might be an economic blow if New Zealand stood up against Saudi Arabia, Mr Harris said, but that must come second to human rights.

"We've got a revolting crime and this nonsense about it being some sort of 'accident'."

He said doing nothing would set a dangerous precedent and international norms and conventions would "go out the window", if Saudi Arabia wasn't held to account.

"This whole business of the Saudi's doing their own investigation, is so insolent and contemptuous towards the international community, including us, that it demands some response."

He said it was disgraceful that the only international action to date was people "sheepishly leaving" an investment conference.

- By Eva Corlett 
rnz.co.nz