Journalism is a job in which it is very easy to become a “gun for hire” and many individuals and publishing houses are happy to do it. They fly the flag of a selected government – or governments – for a price; a generous monthly stipend or other regular, lavish “favours”.

It means they can never be truly objective in their work because they must always appease their paymasters.

The Middle East magazine does not take money from any government. We run paid and unpaid advertising (the latter for charities), which in no way compromise our integrity or our independence.

We could be a very rich publication if we agreed to enter into such “agreements”. However, we have not chosen not to do so.

It is therefore; with our integrity in place and our independence beyond question, that The Middle East magazine urges immediate and urgent attention, at the highest levels, to unravelling the mystery surrounding the disappearance of one of our own.

Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi (below), has gone missing. He was last sighted entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he had supposedly gone to complete formalities, which would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. So far, there is no evidence of Khashoggi having left the building.

Khashoggi is known to have been a mild critic of the son of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed. The Turkish authorities claim this mild criticism was enough to have him assassinated, probably – Turkish officials say – inside the Consulate. Meanwhile, Saudi officials strongly deny any wrongdoing has taken place. Neither side has been able to offer convincing proof.

Reports have been further complicated by rumours of 15 unknown Saudi Arabians arriving in Istanbul in two private planes on the day before Khashoggi’s appointment at the Consulate and their departure less than 24 hours later.

I have no idea where Jamal Khashoggi is but I feel pretty confident he was not taken there of his own free will. I cannot speculate on whether his disappearance was a ploy to silence him, or whether the story is being “spun” to make political mischief of the very worst kind. Either way there is something putrid about the Khashoggi affair. It stinks.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post, to which Khashoggi was a regular contributor, left the space in the newspaper, where his column would normally have appeared, completely empty. It was a powerful symbol to the readership of the most popular and influential newspaper in Washington DC of what can happen when anarchy prevails.
Ironically, The Washington Post, which has been in print for almost 150 years, carries the banner slogan: “Democracy Dies in Darkness”.

It is up to the rest of us then, wherever we live in the world, to ensure that the brightest of lights is cast upon events that contributed to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and to ensure that neither his name, nor his fate, become yesterdays news.

 

Pat Lancaster

Editor-in-Chief

THE MIDDLE EAST MAGAZINE, LONDON

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