The Washington Post has published a new column by missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in which he warns that governments in the Middle East “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.”
The Post published the chilling column Wednesday, more than two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and only hours after a gruesome account in Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper alleged that Saudi officials cut off Khashoggi’s fingers and then decapitated him inside the consulate while his fiancee waited outside.
The Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has denied any involvement.
In a note affixed to the top of the column, Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said she received the essay from Khashoggi’s translator and assistant a day after he was reported missing.
Khashoggi first began writing for the Post’s opinion section in September 2017, and his columns criticized the prince and the direction of the Saudi kingdom.
In the op-ed, titled ‘Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression’, Khashoggi recounted the imprisonment of a prominent writer who spoke against the Saudi establishment, and cited an incident in which the Egyptian government seized control of a newspaper.
“These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence,” he wrote.
“As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate,” Khashoggi wrote.
President Donald Trump, who initially came out hard on the Saudis over the disappearance but since has backed off, said Wednesday that the US wanted Turkey to turn over any audio or video recording it had of Khashoggi’s alleged killing “if it exists.” He has recently suggested that the global community had jumped to conclusions that Saudi Arabia was behind Khashoggi’s disappearance.
In the column, Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who went into self-imposed exile in the U.S. over the rise of the crown prince, also discussed the practice of Middle Eastern governments blocking internet access to control tightly the information their citizens can see.
“The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power,” Khashoggi wrote.
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