Number 10

World News


Euro MPs Join Chorus of International Outrage of Murdered Saudi Journalist

Several senior MEPs have added their voices to the growing condemnation of the Saudi regime over the case of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, who was murdered in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.

President Trump has threatened severe action if a link can be made between the murder of the dissident journalist and the Saudis.

Trump has called for a “few more days” for the three investigations into the case to conclude while several countries, including the UK, have pulled out of an upcoming Saudi investment conference.

With mystery still surrounding the exact nature of Khashoggi’s murder, Euro deputies have now voiced concern about future EU-Saudi relations, including lucrative arms sales to the Kingdom.

Leading the way is the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee chairman David McAllister who said, “Free media and the protection of journalists are fundamental principles of the European Union.”

The German centre right deputy added, “The disappearance and alleged murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi must be thoroughly investigated.”

Swedish Greens MEP Linnea Engstrom went even further calling for an arms embargo against the Saudis.

She says, “This case bluntly shows what kind of regime we’re talking about. Being dependant on fossil fuels such as oil from these corrupt regimes which constantly violates human rights is a huge mistake. We need to stop dealing with these regimes.”

Her comments are echoed by UK Tory MEP Charles Tannock who also told this website, “I have never had any doubts as to the scant regard for individual human rights in the KSA ever since the ITV 1980 documentary ‘Death of a Princess’ in which a Saudi princess was executed for adultery and most recently by the execution of a Shia cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr for protesting the treatment of the Shia minorities there and the extent of the Wahhabi Salafist crackdown against perceived Iranian influence.”

“Tragically the initial coalition air campaign in Yemen also demonstrated a complete disregard for the customary international rules of war as civilian areas were bombed randomly.”

“It was only after international pressure including the resolution of the parliament I co-authored that the targeting was improved against legitimate military ones but the most recent civilian school bus attack raised serious questions again.”

“Therefore when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing with accusations of him being murdered by a Saudi hit squad in its Istanbul consular premises I was not surprised as he was an irritant as a major critic to the Saudi authorities having denounced a number of things including the Yemen war prosecuted under the new young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

“I believe now Turkey should make public as a NATO country and democracy what evidence it has to support its serious claim Khashoggi was murdered in the KSA consulate in Istanbul and Saudi Arabia should stop threatening counter measures unless the USA and the EU three of Germany, France and UK drop their diplomatic demarches.”

Tannock, an ECR member, added, “I disagreed with the recent statement by the UK Foreign secretary that we share common values with the KSA as clearly we don’t but I still recognise the west has large commercial interests in bilateral trade deals with KSA and diaspora communities living and working there so we must maintain friendly relations whilst remaining critical at the brutality and lack of fundamental human rights in that strategic Middle Eastern country.”

German deputy Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP, also intervened, saying: “Media freedom is a fundamental right and a prerequisite for functioning democracy everywhere in Europe. If journalists cannot do their job freely, in the long run, our democracies will cease to be democracies.”

A spokesman for the EPP group said, “We join the international demand to ask Saudi authorities about further explanations in relation with what has happened to Khashoggi.”

But UK Tory MEP Geoffrey van Orden does not support an embargo, saying, “The close relationship with Saudi Arabia is enormously important in terms of regional alliances and the balance of forces in the Middle East, as well as its wider economic and defence implications. We certainly do not wish to see an arms embargo. We hope for no impediments to the very genuine democratic and social reforms that have been taking place recently in the Kingdom. The circumstances of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance therefore are a cause of grave concern.”

Further comment came from European Council President Donald Tusk who recalled that 16 October was the first anniversary of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

He said, “Since then, other journalists have been murdered, also in Europe. Today we are all troubled by reports of the killing of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. I am absolutely convinced that without a free press, our societies will not be free. This is why I call for a full investigation to establish what happened, and to hold those responsible to account. The violence against journalists has to stop.”

From the NGO world, Willy Fautre, of Human Rights without Frontiers, said, “The Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance presents a perfect opportunity for the EU to openly and firmly press Saudi Arabia to publicly elucidate this horrendous incident and to take retaliatory measures if Ryad persists in denying any responsibility. But will Brussels do it?”