The Dissident tells the true story of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

The Oscar-winning director of Icarus has switched his gaze to the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and seeks to show the man for who he really was, not as Saudi Arabia would like to paint him, writes Stephen Applebaum

Friday 05 March 2021 10:16
<p>Khashoggi and MBS in a still from the film</p>

Khashoggi and MBS in a still from the film

When you become a dissident, “it's never a normal life for you any more”, says Omar Abdulaziz. Speaking over Zoom from Montreal, Canada, where he has been in exile since claiming political asylum in 2014, the plucky and voluble 29-year-old Saudi activist says he wakes up each morning not knowing what to expect. “Every day, you're learning that one of your friends is missing because he’s been jailed. Maybe it’s one of your relatives who is jailed. Or there is an assassination team coming after you. This is my daily life.”

Today, he logged-on 30-minutes late for our interview because a dissident friend (later reported as Ahmed Abdullah al-Harbi), who'd mysteriously vanished during a visit to the Saudi embassy in Ottawa, had reappeared suddenly in Saudi Arabia. “He recorded a video of himself there,” says Abdulaziz. “We're worried, because when he went to the embassy he called me and other friends, and said: 'They threatened me and my family members. Guys, please help me.' And then he disappeared. Anybody can go back to the country, but he was a political refugee. He was granted asylum here in Canada. And for the Saudis to be in touch or to drag somebody to the Saudi embassy, that means something fishy is happening.”