Saudi media summit held one year after Khashoggi's murder

RIAD: Saudi Arabia is organizing a two-day media summit that began on Monday, just days after an offensive against writers and bloggers and a year after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi The murder.

Riyadh, which seems to be intensifying an offensive against freedom of expression, seeks to underpin its international reputation after criticism of its history as it prepares to organize the G20 summit next November.

El Foro de Medios de Saudi Arabia está organizando a más de 1,000 periodistas de medios árabes e internacionales, en una primera conferencia de este tipo centrada en oportunidades y desafíos en la industria, dijeron los organizadores.

The forum will also organize a media awards ceremony.

We believe in the important role played by the media today, as well as in the freedom and independence of the press, Mohammed al-Harthi, president of the forum, said in a statement.

This year Saudi Arabia slid to 172 out of 180 countries in an index ranking freedom of the media, prepared annually by Reporters without borders (RSF)

The de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, faced world outrage after Khashoggi's assassination in October last year at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a former member of royal royalty turned into a dissident, was strangled and his body dismembered inside the consulate.

A UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions said there was credible evidence linking the powerful crown prince with the murder, but the kingdom strongly denies that he was involved.

Saudi Arabia is gearing up to host the 2020 G20 summit, an event that is set to see the leaders of the world's 20 richest nations converging.

Rights groups have urged G20 member states to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia over its crackdown on dissent which has seen dozens of women activists, journalists and political dissidents jailed during the past two years.

Activists reported last Monday that in the last movement against intellectuals, at least nine academics, writers and bloggers had been arrested.

Activists say that some of the nine were subsequently released, but the detention of the liberals, in the midst of a highly publicized liberalization campaign, underlines what observers call increased repression and authoritarianism.

The RSF group said it met confidentially with senior Saudi officials in Riyadh in April to press for the release of 30 jailed journalists.

He only confirmed his visit to the Saudi capital in July after he said the possibility of pardons did not materialize.