WWE is facing some serious political backlash against a multi-million dollar event the company plans to hold in Saudi Arabia, following reports that the kingdom assassinated Washington Post journalist and United States resident Jamal Khashoggi, according to IJR.
According to CNN, Turkish officials have provided audio and visual evidence that Khashoggi entered the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get the required paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancee and has not been seen since.
Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied any allegations of wrongdoing and insist that Khashoggi left the embassy that afternoon.
His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside of the embassy, says she never saw him come back out.
The evidence CNN obtained apparently showed there was an assault and struggle inside the consulate, reportedly providing evidence of the moment that Khashoggi was killed, which was described as “shocking and disgusting” by the sources.
The Washington Post acquired audio recordings that they say provided “persuasive and gruesome evidence” that a Saudi hit squad sent to Istanbul was responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” one person with knowledge of the recording told the Post.
“You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”
Good evening @SNICKERS - You’re sponsoring an event being held in Saudi Arabia next month.— TOᑭ ᖇOᑭE TᖇAViS (@TopRopeTravis) October 12, 2018
Saudi Arabia just murdered a resident of Virginia.
This is not a good look for @MarsGlobal - A company with its headquarters in McLean, VA.
I’d recommend you have a talk with WWE. https://t.co/WsUNE5buCi
Capitol Hill has been putting massive pressure on WWE to call off the event just a week before it is scheduled to take place in Riyadh.
“This is a brazen assault on the freedom of the press and a slap in the face to the United States, if this murder occurred as it seems it did,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told IJR when asked about the upcoming wrestling event.
Murphy is not only a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as he also represents the same state where WWE headquarters are located.
“Because [Linda McMahon, wife of WWE owner and chairman, Vince McMahon] is part of the president’s cabinet […] the administration really should give it some thought and maybe even prevail upon them not doing it,” Murphy said.
“I’d hope that they would be rethinking their relationship with the kingdom especially with respect to events coming up in the next weeks like [WWE Crown Jewel].”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told IJR that the company “should be taking a hard look” at its relationship with the kingdom moving forward.
Both sides of the aisle seem to be in agreement about concerns over the upcoming WWE event.
“There should be a pause,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told IJR, adding that he felt “there would be hell to pay” if Khashoggi had, in fact, been murdered.
“I want a complete rethinking of our relationship,” Graham said.
The increasing political pressure might be due to Linda McMahon, who co-founded WWE with her husband, being involved in the Trump administration as Small Business Administrator.
“Private enterprise is private enterprise, different than a governmental entity,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) told IJR.
“But because [Linda McMahon] is part of the president’s cabinet, it falls into the gray area where the administration really should give it some thought and maybe even prevail upon them not doing it.”
IJR reached out to McMahon’s office for comment but has yet to get a response.
When IJR reached out to the WWE about the growing pressure ahead of the event, they issued a statement explaining that the company is “currently monitoring the situation.”