The Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom award of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), has been awarded posthumously to Saudi Arabian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
The award, made in Glasgow, Scotland during the 71st World News Media Congress, 26th World Editors Forum and 3rd Women in News Summit, recognised Mr Khashoggi’s long-standing commitment – despite great personal sacrifice and ultimately fatal consequences – to speaking truth to power by exercising his right to freedom of expression through unflinching, quality journalism.
“’When I speak of the fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to speak their minds, and then I tell you I’m from Saudi Arabia, are you surprised?’” said Dave Callaway, World Editors Forum president, quoting Mr Khashoggi’s first article for The Washington Post after he went into self-imposed exile in the United States in 2017.
“Despite his enormous love for his homeland, he could not bring himself to ignore where it was going,” continued Mr Callaway. “He continued to speak out, and it cost him his life.”
On 2nd October, 2018 Mr Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to collect documents related to his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
But he never came out. For the next two weeks, the Saudi government denied any knowledge about Mr Khashoggi’s whereabouts, claiming that he had left the consulate after an hour.
Then, on 20th October, state television reported that he had in fact been murdered in an operation ordered by a Saudi intelligence officer.
However, conflicting information about his disappearance continued to surface, with differing reports on how Mr Khashoggi had died. More than a month later, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general admitted that he had been given a lethal injection inside the consulate and that his death had been premeditated.
Since Mr Khashoggi’s murder, 11 people have been charged over the journalist’s death, with five facing the death penalty.
But a high level of impunity surrounds the case, in which none of those charged have been identified.
Despite intelligence reports from multiple global sources supporting the theory of high-level official involvement, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has steadfastly denied any knowledge of the incident.