25 OCT 2018

Press Freedom

President Trump's constant, hostile and irresponsible attacks on inconvenient 'Fake News' and attempts by Putin's Russia to disseminate misinformation through contrived social media accounts threaten the very existence of a free press. Furthermore, according to Reporters Sans Frontières, 72 journalists, citizen journalists and media assistants have been killed, so far, this year. This attack on freedom of expression threatens to undermine our democracies and therefore should concern us all.

It is within this context that the recent disappearance of the prominent journalist and critic of the Saudi Government Jamal Khashoggi has shocked the world and I am personally staggered by the emerging horrific detail. All of the evidence points culpability for his death towards the Saudi Government and the Turkish authorities claim to have proof that he was tortured and killed by agents of the Saudi state.

Mr Khashoggi's death is an abomination and a direct threat to the way of life we all hold dear. I am encouraged that the international community are rejecting the Saudi Government's ever deepening web of lies, deployed to try and deflect away the global glare and, no doubt, protect their investment interests which are now, quite rightly, under threat.

The UK have joined forces with Germany and France to condemn Mr Khashoggi's death in the strongest possible terms and our Foreign Secretary has been clear that those found responsible for the murder must be held accountable.

However, this barbaric incident is the latest in a long line of human rights abuses by the Saudi regime and Governments around the world must now back up their rhetoric with action. States who hold democracy and freedom dear must consider whether they can really be doing business with people whose values are apparently so incompatible with their own.

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Helen's column

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