Authors J.K Rowling and Zadie Smith are among more than 100 leading creatives, activists and journalists calling for an independent UN probe into the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.
A month on from the journalist’s death, the group has signed a letter to the organisation’s Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, asking for a “thorough investigation” into his disappearance.
It comes as adviser to the Turkish president Yasin Aktay told the Hurriyet Daily newspaper that he thought Khashoggi’s body had been dissolved in acid.
The journalist, an outspoken critic of powerful Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2.
He was going to collect documents which would allow him to marry his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside.
Various accounts have emerged about the circumstances of his death, but Turkish officials this week said the Washington Post columnist, who was on a self-imposed exile to the US, was strangled as soon as he entered the building and his body dismembered in a premeditated move.
Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia – who for several days maintained that the 59-year-old left the building alive – say they are investigating the case.
Saudi Arabia says it has arrested 18 suspects who will be prosecuted in the kingdom.
“The violent murder of a prominent journalist and commentator on foreign soil is a grave violation of human rights and a disturbing escalation of the crackdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia,” the letter read.
It added that the Saudi government had in recent years “jailed numerous writers, journalists, human rights advocates, and lawyers in a sweeping assault on free expression and association.
The violent murder of a prominent journalist and commentator on foreign soil is a grave violation of human rights and a disturbing escalation of the crackdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia
“It is also another data point in a global trend that has seen an increasing number of journalists imprisoned and murdered for their work.
“As writers and journalists ourselves, we fear the potential chilling effect of this trend, at a moment when the work of all those who would speak and expose the truth has never been more important.”
The letter, signed by Meryl Streep, Margaret Atwood, and Sir Patrick Stewart among others, comes on the UN-recognised International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
On Friday, human rights organisation Amnesty International ‘renamed’ 30 Charles Street in Mayfair – the home of the Saudi embassy in London – to Khashoggi Street.