Sean Penn’s newest project is certainly an ambitious one, USA Today is reporting. Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkey’s president, confirmed to the press on Thursday that Penn had recently interviewed him for a documentary he’s working on that looks into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a columnist for the Washington Post who had openly condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the past. He is suspected to have been tortured and killed by agents under the orders of bin Salman. Security footage showed Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate on October 2, never to return.
Adding to the theory that it was the work of bin Salman was the various conflicting statements released by the Saudi government. According to Deadline, the murder was outright denied at first. Shortly after, they admitted that he was indeed killed and that further investigation was pending. As of now, the CIA fully believes that bin Salman ordered the killing, rather than the act being carried out by “rogue agents” as was claimed. Atkay was the first to report his knowledge of Khashoggi never emerging from the consulate to the authorities. Now, Atkay says Penn is filming in Turkey to document the crime.
According to Atkay, Penn had interviewed him as a part of “preliminary preparations” and was planning to fly to Istanbul to speak with Khashoggi’s fiancee. Penn was spotted filming in front of the consulate on Wednesday. While Penn is known as primarily an actor, he is no stranger to being a documentarian as well — he’s filmed a variety of them, his latest being the 2013 film, The Human Experiment, which looked into the chemicals used in everyday household products. Penn isn’t just credited with spreading the word through his documentaries, but also legitimately aiding in the investigation. According to Slate, it was Penn’s interview with the Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” that helped lead to the criminal’s capture.
As for bin Salman facing consequences, that is still up in the air. While the CIA is now completely of the belief that the prince was responsible, U.S. President Donald Trump is still denying that there is any confirmation that bin Salman ordered the murder. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogn remains vocal about getting justice for Khashoggi, and is encouraging other countries to take action. Neither Penn or his representatives have confirmed the making of the documentary, but photos of him filming and Atkay’s statement point toward a dramatic film coming from Penn.
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