Greg Norman says ‘we all make mistakes’ when asked about Khashoggi killing
Australian golf champion makes remarks about journalist’s murder at Saudi-backed league event
The golf champion Greg Norman has attempted to dismiss questions over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate as a “mistake,” adding the Saudi government “wants to move forward”.
Norman was speaking at a promotional event in the UK for a Saudi-backed golf tournament, the LIV Golf Invitational Series. The 67-year-old is chief executive of LIV Golf Investments, funded primarily by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
The $225m (£184m) competition, designed to rival other big golf series, has attracted controversy over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, including the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Last year US intelligence agencies concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had approved his murder.
“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights; talk about it, but also talk about the good that the country is doing in changing its culture,” Norman said. “Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward.”
The Australian golfer said he had not met Mohammed Bin Salman “but, at the same time, I do read that the Saudi government has made their statements and comments about it and they want to move forward”.
When asked how he felt when he heard about the execution of 81 men in Saudi Arabia in March, Norman said: “I got a lot of messages but quite honestly I look forward. I don’t look back. I don’t look into the politics of things. I’m not going to get into the quagmire of whatever else happens in someone else’s world. I heard about it and just kept moving on,” he said.
Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 to collect documents required for him to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.
The killing was caught on listening devices planted by Turkish intelligence. The dissident was strangled by security aides and then dismembered by a forensic scientist who worked for Saudi intelligence. His body was then transferred in pieces to the nearby Turkish consul general’s residence, where it is thought to have been burned in an outdoor oven. No remains have ever been found.
PA and Reuters contributed to this report