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A missing journalist compels the king to step in and ordinary Saudis to watch their words
The entrance to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

On Oct. 13 newspapers in Saudi Arabia released a pointed reminder to the citizens of the kingdom: Article 6 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law stipulates a maximum five years in prison and a maximum fine of 3 million riyals ($800,000) for sharing rumors or fake news that breach public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy. Everyone knew what it was directed at—speculation about the involvement of the government in the Oct. 2 disappearance and alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist and prominent critic of the regime’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

At first, the Saudi narrative had been simply to depict the case as an attempt to smear the country because of its power in the Middle East—even as Turkish officials claimed it was Saudi Arabia that ordered the killing. In the kingdom, government-controlled

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