A visitor from Mars looking at reports of the murder during a one-against-15 fistfight of a journalist in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate could be forgiven for perceiving Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, as a champion of human rights and press freedom prepared to leave no stone unturned in exposing the killing of a writer by a totalitarian state.
He would be surprised to learn, as far as Erdogan’s motives are concerned, nothing could be further from the truth. More than 150 Turkish journalists have been jailed on trumped-up terrorism charges since the unsuccessful coup against his government in 2016. A third of all jailed journalists on the planet are behind bars in Turkey, where 180 newspapers, magazines and radio stations have been closed. Turkey has fallen to 157th place out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index, slightly better than Saudi Arabia’s score: 169.
Erdogan’s interest in the murder of Khashoggi stems from his geopolitical tussle with Saudi Arabia its rival for the leadership of the Middle’s East’s Sunni Muslims not from an unlikely passion for human rights.