Each of these stories has a different political context, and in each of them the killers have different things to hide. But in a deeper sense, they are connected, for this is one of the defining issues of our time: The murders are the consequence of the clash between a 21st century technological revolution, which has made it possible to obtain and spread information in new ways, and a 21st century offshore banking revolution, which has made it possible to steal money in new ways, to hide it in new ways and to use it to maintain power. These two rapid changes have had a dramatic impacton democracies such as Malta and Slovakia as well as dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia and Russia. Often, it is journalists, especially investigative journalists, who are caught in the fault lines between them.

Why? Because we already live in a global news network, whether we want to or not. And because the information they reveal spreads so much more quickly than it once would have done. The Soviet Union — or indeed Saudi Arabia before the Internet — could effectively silence a critic through censorship or exile. Someone like Politkovskaya would not have mattered as much back then, because nobody inside the U.S.S.R. could have easily read what she wrote. Outside of his country, someone like Khashoggi would have had little influence in the pre-Internet era, either. But in 2018, everything he wrote was accessible to any Saudi citizen with a smartphone.


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