Saudi authorities reportedly blocked the websites of Turkish Anadolu and TRT on Saturday, after pro-Saudi regime social media accounts launched an apparent campaign on Twitter calling for the suspension of the Turkish media, alleging that they were spreading misinformation about Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has not officially announced the blocking, but an email allegedly leaked from the Saudi Ministry of Information says the websites had been blocked for “violating the ministry’s regulations.”
Social media activists have described the move as a violation of freedom of the press and expression, and there are concerns that it would further exacerbate the already tense relations between Riyadh and Ankara following the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Khashoggi was a US-based journalist and Riyadh critic who had been lured into the Saudi consulate. He is widely believed to have been murdered on a direct order by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally entered the fray to disseminate information that Turkey obtained about his killing by Saudi state agents.
Turkey also carried out an investigation of its own after Saudi Arabian authorities failed to give plausible explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Recently, Turkish prosecutors charged 20 suspects over the journalist’s murder. Among them were two former top aides to bin Salman.
Khashoggi’s body was never recovered.
Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia have also been strained as a result of an embargo on Qatar spearheaded by Riyadh.