“I just decided to leave before it is too late,” Khashoggi said in an exclusive interview with Global News’ Jeff Semple in June.
“So thank goodness that I did that, otherwise I would’ve been … banned from travel, if not arrested. And that’s not what I want in my retirement. I’m 60 years old and I want to enjoy life, and I want to be free to speak for my country.”
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote several columns for the Washington Post, was murdered by Saudi officials in their consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2. Officials have admitted it was a “premeditated” attack.
The journalist spoke with Global News in two interviews — one in June and one in August — months before he was murdered.
Read more on the Aug. 6 interview here: Jamal Khashoggi praised Canada for ‘raising the flag’ on Saudi human rights abuses
Praising the crown prince
In the interview on June 5, Khashoggi praised Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to drive saying he was “thrilled” about the crown prince’s leadership on that reform.
“We were pushing, arguing for women’s right to drive for decades,” he said. “And we got what we wanted and really appreciate the crown prince to take this brave step and override all objections of the past, of the conservatives, of the royals, and move along with the women driving.”
Khashoggi added that the Saudis’ decision to allow women to drive also made his daughters very happy as it will empower them at work.
“Saudi Arabia needed such a brave decision by a leader,” Khashoggi said.
Although the writer praised Mohammed bin Salman on that one issue, Khashoggi was quick to criticize him for his crackdown on critics of the government.
Last year, at age 31, Mohammed became the kingdom’s crown prince, next in line to the throne now held by his octogenarian father, King Salman. While pushing for women to drive, he has overseen the arrest of women’s rights activists.
“The crown price wants to be the leader of the reform, and he wants to control the narrative,” Khashoggi said. “It is very worrying. We are going into an era of one-man rule, of authoritarianism; some kind of chauvinist narrative that accuses independent Saudis of being traitors. And this is scary. This is not the Saudi Arabia we want.”
WATCH: Khashoggi describes living under Saudi crown prince’s ‘chauvinist’ rule
‘I just decided to leave before it is too late’
Khashoggi said Saudi Arabia’s increasing attempt to muzzle those who speak out against the government was the reason he left the country and went to live in Washington.
“I left because whatever narrow space I had, was getting narrower. I began to feel the pressure. So I just decided to leave before it is too late,” he said. “A couple of months after I left, friends of mine were arrested, many people I know are banned from travel.”
Khashoggi said the Saudi government pressure is “gradually heading into a one-party state,” as the crown prince wants people to “fear him rather than love him.”
“He doesn’t need this intimidation. He doesn’t need to make the Saudi people fearful of him,” he said. “I would like to see evolution in my country, not revolution. It is much better for us to work together with the government to transform Saudi Arabia for the future. Unfortunately, right now the crown prince wants to do that alone.”
WATCH: Khashoggi case knocks Saudi crown prince’s power
In another August interview with Semple, Khashoggi praised Canada for “raising the flag” on Saudi human rights abuses.