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Vice blocked an article criticising Saudi Arabia. This is why we published it instead | The Guardian |

If you want proof Saudi Arabia is trying to improve its reputation, visit the website of the Saudi Tourism Authority. There you will find the Q&A section has recently been updated to state that LGBTQ visitors to the country are welcome. This from a country that executed five men for same-sex relationships just four years ago. The hubris is astonishing. And yet to directly challenge those contradictions isn't easy, something John Lubbock, Daisy Steinhardt and Max Colbert recently learned.

As reported by the Guardian on Tuesday, the journalists had co-written an article for Vice World News, which looked at how LGBTQ Saudis face threats from their families and state authorities. It was commissioned after Vice signed a partnership deal with the MBC Group, a media company controlled by the Saudi government. The article's publication was first delayed and eventually spiked. The reason given? To protect staff at Vice's offices in Riyadh.

At Index on Censorship we followed the Vice story with dismay. It's not that we don't often hear of stories being spiked. We do, routinely. It's just that they usually happen elsewhere, to writers in countries with authoritarian governments such as China and Russia, or, if in the UK, to articles concerning vastly rich individuals, ones who are known to be litigious and take advantage of England's claimant-friendly legal system. We contacted the journalists and offered them a place for their article to be published.

Vice is not the first media outlet to develop relations with the petrol-state. The Independent and Evening Standard have been explicitly accused by the British government of being part-owned by the Saudi Arabian state, which they both deny. The majority owner of the news organisations, Evgeny Lebedev, sold a 30% stake in both in 2017 and 2018 to offshore companies fronted by a Saudi businessman, Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel.

Vice blocked news stories that could offend Saudi Arabia, insiders say

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Aug 19th, 2023 at 08:10:21 AM EST
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