Saudi Arabia is in real trouble given the dramatic events that have taken place over the past week since the disappearance of Saudi journalist and writer Jamal Khashoggi. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and there has been no trace of him since that fateful day.
It seems that the Turkish authorities are facing a difficult test in sudden and unexpected circumstances. The occurrence of any crime on state territory, especially if it takes place in a diplomatic location, requires an international investigation. The holding of such an investigation promotes Turkey as a strong and confident country capable of exposing those who conspire against the right to life and freedom of the press, whatever the reasons.
This incident has shocked the whole world. If Khashoggi’s death is confirmed, international organisations and human rights groups will hopefully deal with it honestly and transparently. This is essential if we are to tackle anyone who oversteps the mark and violates the principles and objectives of a free press, which should be guaranteed for all writers and media professionals, without exception. Moreover, if it is proven that a crime has been committed, those responsible must be punished; no perpetrator should be allowed to escape punishment.
Such accountability should be subject to the highest international standards covering criminal investigations in order to deter others. It must be made clear that those who choose to commit such heinous crimes will be brought to justice.
The Turkish police and security agencies, as well as the judiciary, look set to be the first to deal with the Khashoggi disappearance. It provides an opportunity to show the world that the authorities in Turkey will not tolerate terrorism and criminality within its sovereign territory.
Freedom of the press is one of the goals and aspirations of free nations who dream of building thinking minds and developing enlightened societies. Those who have been honest and transparent in using the media in the best way to build up their nation do not deserve a tragic end at the hands of arrogant tyrants.
We all hope that Jamal Khashoggi is still alive somewhere, and that those responsible for his disappearance will be brought to account, not least for abusing Turkish sovereignty under diplomatic cover. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks about the disappearance of the Saudi writer suggest strongly that he has been murdered. The crisis is complicated due to the ambiguous and complex circumstances surrounding it, but there is hope that the Turkish authorities will get to the bottom of it.
Khashoggi is being lauded as a hero in the Western media, even more so than in the Arab press. There is support across the world for an international inquiry and investigation. If we care anything at all about freedom of speech and a free press, we have no option but to support such a call.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 11 October 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.