The Washington Post has published an opinion piece authored by disappeared Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in which he decried a lack of press freedom throughout the Arab world.
Khashoggi, who was last seen entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul on October 2, wrote in the article that “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate”.
“There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet,” he wrote in the article published on Wednesday.
“As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives.”
Citing crackdowns on the press by Egyptian and Saudi officials, Khashoggi warned such actions “no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community”.
According to leaks from Turkish officials, Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in what they have described as a “premeditated murder” carried out by a 15-man Saudi hit squad.
Some of the individuals involved reportedly have close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely known as MBS.
Saudi authorities, meanwhile, have said Khashoggi left the consulate without being harmed shortly after he arrived.
A joint-probe into the case by Saudi Arabia and Turkey is ongoing.
‘The last piece’
Karen Attiah, The Washington Post’s Global Opinions editor, wrote an introductory note to Khashoggi’s piece saying his assistant had submitted the article a day after the 60-year-old was reported missing.
“The [Washington] Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen,” Attiah wrote.
“This is the last piece of his I will edit for The [Washington] Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world.”
Khashoggi wrote the “ripe” hope of future freedoms felt by many during the Arab Spring of 2011, which saw popular uprisings throughout the Middle East, had been “shattered”.
“There are a few oases that continue to embody the spirit of the Arab Spring. Qatar’s government continues to support international news coverage, in contrast to its neighbours’ efforts to uphold the control of information to support the ‘old Arab order’,” he wrote.
“[But] Even in Tunisia and Kuwait, where the press is considered at least ‘partly free,’ the media focuses on domestic issues but not issues faced by the greater Arab world,” he added.
“They are hesitant to provide a platform for journalists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen. Even Lebanon, the Arab world’s crown jewel when it comes to press freedom, has fallen victim to the polarisation and influence of pro-Iran Hezbollah.”