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Why journalism must be globally protected

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While journalism has strong roots in the United States, parts of the world don’t have the right to freedom of the press. Without this freedom, journalists in these countries are more likely to face danger.

This is evident in the case of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who died October 2, 2018. Khashoggi was first thought to be missing, but it later turned out he was reportedly murdered at a Saudi consulate while trying to obtain paperwork for a future marriage, according to the New York Times.

Two weeks passed before the Saudi Arabian government started revealing the truth behind what happened to Khashoggi on October 20, but there are multiple problems that come up with the delay and inconsistencies of Saudi Arabia’s statements.

First, why wasn’t there more information about the consulate incident sooner? Various news sources such as CNN and the Associated Press didn’t get information from Saudi Arabia about the event until weeks later.

Second, why are so many inconsistencies present with the testimony given by Saudi Arabian officials?

BBC News has recorded variances in the Saudi officials’ reports, from Khashoggi not being “in the consulate nor in Saudi custody,” the meeting as the consulate “led to a brawl and a fist fight,” to the murder being “a tremendous mistake.”

In Saudi Arabia, there is state-run journalism, such as the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), claiming that reports of the Saudi government ordering for Khashoggi’s death are “lies and base allegations,” as reported by CNN.

There is possible bias to the denial of such allegations, given that state-run newspapers are not going to say that their state wanted to kill an innocent man.

While there are other factors that suggest government involvement, especially with preventing Khashoggi’s children from leaving Saudi Arabia and how critical Khashoggi was about the Saudi government (both claims coming from Business Insider’s reporting), there’s even harsher evidence against the government.

According to the Associated Press, Saudi officials planned a “safe house” option where Khashoggi would have been kidnapped, but Khashoggi called for help upon hearing he was going to be taken to a safe house. When the event stated to become more violent, someone on the Saudi team applied a chokehold to quiet Khashoggi down, but it killed the journalist instead.

United States President Donald Trump has responded to Khashoggi’s murder by describing the case as the “worst cover-up in the history of cover-ups,” as reported by USA Today.

According to BBC News, Trump also believes the Crown Prince didn’t know prior to the operation what was going on.

The U.S. idea of punishment against those suspected of murdering Khashoggi was to revoke the visas of the killers and possibly imposing sanctions on them, as reported by BBC News.

Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, explained, “These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States.”

This is a tragic case that demonstrates how journalism needs to be separated from state and why freedom of the press is vital to the protection of journalism. Khashoggi’s murder was indeed a terrible act, even if Saudi officials had different intentions.

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