Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s final column for the Washington Post has been published two weeks after he went missing.
The US resident’s assistant sent his passionate article on the lack of press freedom in the Arab world a day after he was reported missing after entering Istanbul’s Saudi consulate on 2 October.
Karen Attiah, the Post’s global opinions editor, said the paper held off publishing the column until Wednesday night “because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together”.
“Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post,” she wrote.
Mr Khashoggi, who had been working for the Post for a year, went into the consulate to obtain documents he needed to get married.
The Saudi dissident was reportedly killed soon after entering the building, which the Saudis have denied but cannot explain where he is.
Publishing his final article online, Ms Attiah said: “This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world.
“A freedom he apparently gave his life for.
“I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.”
In the column, entitled “What the Arab world needs most is free expression”, he highlighted how Tunisia is the only country in the Arab world classified as “free”.
The journalist wrote that people in other Arab countries “are either uninformed or misinformed” so are unable to address matters affecting their day-to-day lives.
He said “a large majority…falls victim” to the “false narrative” pumped out by states, and “sadly, this situation is unlikely to change”.
Unafraid to speak out against his country’s government, he wrote of how the Arab Spring gave hope of a “bright and free Arab society” but “these expectations were quickly shattered”.
He said his “dear friend” Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi is now serving a five-year prison sentence for “supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment”.
Eager to show the world how painful the lack of press freedom can be, he wrote about a time when journalists in the region believed the internet would liberate them from state control – but that has not happened.
He added: “The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain…through domestic forces vying for power.”
And he also thanked the Post for publishing his pieces in Arabic so Arabs “can understand and discuss the various aspects and complications of democracy in the United States and the West” and understand the implications in their own community.
In his final paragraph, he called for a “platform for Arab voices…an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda”.
That, he wrote, is how “ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face”.
Read the full column here.