Ankara- Turkey has blocked public access to the websites belonging to the official news agencies of Saudi Arabia and its regional ally the United Arab Emirates amid simmering tensions between Ankara and Riyadh over the 2018 murder of a prominent Saudi journalist in Istanbul.
The ban was enforced on Sunday against the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and the UAE’s Emirates News Agency (WAM) as well as more than a dozen other websites.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia blocked several Turkish media websites, including those of state broadcaster TRT and Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency. The UAE, however, is yet to take any action against any Turkish website.
The action by Riyadh came after a move by a Turkish court on April 12 to accept an indictment brought against 20 Saudis, including two former associates of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for the brutal murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who had become a critic of bin Salman, was killed and his body dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the consulate.
The indictment identified the associates as former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad Asiri and former royal aide Saud al-Qahtani.
According to The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, the CIA has concluded that bin Salman personally ordered his killing. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has also said the killing was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.
“We believe the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey reflected on us,” said Nevzat Cicek, editor of the Turkish website of the UK-based Independent newspaper, which is operated by a Saudi company and was one of the websites to be blocked by Turkey.
Riyadh, though, has spurned all the allegations linking the killing to bin Salman and instead claimed that the murder was committed by a “rogue” group.
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