Memorial honors Khashoggi, other journalists slain in 2018

Washington (AFP) –


Twenty-two journalists killed in 2018 had their names added to a Washington memorial Monday as media rights defenders warned of growing threats to freedom of the press around the world.

Among the names added to the Journalist Memorial at the Newseum were Jamal Khashoggi, the exiled Saudi dissident killed in Turkey, and AFP photographer Shah Marai, among 25 people killed in a Kabul bomb attack in April 2018.

"The memorial and this annual rededication event remind us all every day that the world is an increasingly dangerous place for those who gather and report the news," said Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute.

The peril for journalists, he noted, can come just as much from "the inherent dangers of reporting from the battlefield or the storm front" as "from being targeted by criminals, terrorists or repressive governments."

Columnist Fred Hiatt of The Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a contributor, stressed the need to seek justice for his slain colleague.

"If he can be murdered with impunity no journalist is safe," Hiatt told the ceremony. "If the crime can be committed inside a diplomatic mission... then no location is safe."

Khashoggi, a royal insider, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in what Riyadh said was a "rogue" operation, but the CIA has reportedly said the murder was likely ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The memorial now carries the names of 2,344 journalists killed since 1837, just a fraction of those who have lost their lives gathering and delivering news -- an estimated 54 last year alone.

"This ceremony and the memorial represents the opportunity to remember what happens with them and the opportunity to not forget," said Yadira Aguagallo, the partner of Paul Rivas, a photographer for Ecuador's El Comercio killed last year along with journalist Javier Ortega and their driver Efrain Segarra.

The team were captured and killed by former Colombian rebels during a reporting assignment on drug trafficking on the border between the two countries.

Others whose names were added included Mike McCormick and Philip Aaron Smeltzer, members of a television crew killed reporting on a tropical storm in South Carolina.

"It means that Mike and Phil aren't forgotten," said Mandy Nottingham, a former colleague of the pair at WYFF television.

"Their work continues because we don't let it die with them."