Your Royal Highness:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned by the dismissal this week of Jamal Khashoggi from his job as editor of the Saudi daily Al-Watan.
On May 27, the government removed Khashoggi from his post without explanation, according to international media reports. His dismissal came in response to Al-Watan‘s provocative editorial stance against Islamic militancy in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh, which killed more than two dozen people. According to a conservative Saudi lawyer, quoted in The New York Times, prior to Khashoggi’s dismissal, religious conservatives had complained to Saudi officials about the newspaper’s coverage.
Removing Khashoggi from his job is the latest example of Saudi government harassment of the press. During the last several months, a number of journalists—including Muhammad Mukhtar al-Fal and Ahmed Muhammad Mahmud, the editor and publisher, respectively, of Al-Madina newspaper, and Qanan al-Ghamdi, the former editor of Al-Watan—have been forced to resign or have been dismissed because of critical reports about the religious establishment, religious extremism, and the government.
Khashoggi’s dismissal constitutes a flagrant act of government interference with the press and violates the most basic standards of press freedom. We urge you to take all necessary measures to ensure that Khashoggi is able to return to work immediately, without further hindrance.
Ann K. Cooper,