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SAUDI journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s last column, a call for press freedom across the Arab world, was published today amid fears of a growing cover-up over his murder.
Mr Khashoggi’s article in the Washington Post urged the West to end its silence over the attacks on news media and journalists in the region and accused the Arab world of erecting its own “iron curtain” to curtail press freedom.
He said there was a need for Arab voices to have a platform in the media and called for “the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda.”
The column was published as efforts intensified to shield Saudi Arabia from growing criticism over the death of Mr Khashoggi and fears that those who know what occurred in the Saudi consulate are being targeted.
Reports suggested today that a member of a 15-man hit squad alleged to have dismembered and disposed of the dissident journalist’s body in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul had died in a “suspicious traffic accident” in Riyadh.
Pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported claims that Meshal Saad Albostani, a lieutenant in the Saudi air force, could have been “silenced” by the Saudi regime.
US President Donald Trump dropped his hard-line rhetoric over the murder earlier this week, coming out in support of the Saudi regime and citing fears that sanctions could harm US arms deals and financial transactions with the kingdom.
But the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) warned of a cover-up and demanded an end to co-operation with Riyadh until the perpetrators of the murder are held to account.
“It is increasingly clear the Saudi government is engaged in weaving a carefully orchestrated tissue of lies to cover up their role in Jamal’s killing,” it said in a statement.
The IFJ said the Saudi government was engaged in an “embarrassing charade” in claiming that it would take days to discover what had happened in its own consulate.
“The impunity with which the Saudis are acting is grotesque, but it is in many ways matched by the sight of leading governments around the world displaying their willingness to aid and abet this gross cover-up to protect their own financial and political interests,” the statement continued.
“The EU and US have sanctioned Russia and Venezuela over claims of state-sponsored killing. Why the lack of action on Saudi Arabia?”
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