Earlier this week, a Middle East Eye report revealed that a Saudi-based investor has bought a huge stake in British newspaper, The Independent. 

"Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, 42, listed in company records as a Saudi-based Saudi Arabian national, has acquired up to 50 percent of the Independent website," MEE wrote

Established in the 1980s, the newspaper struggled financially in recent years and officially decided to turn digital-only in 2016.

Speaking to MEE, an informed Saudi source described the Saudi business man as someone who comes from an "established business family based in Medina". 

"He now sits with Evgeny Lebedev, the son of a Soviet KGB spy turned Russian oligarch, as a 'person of significant control' in the company. Justin Byam Shaw, described by close associates as a 'serial entrepreneur,' is a third."

Will the latest move affect reporting on Saudi Arabia?

In an official news report published on its own website on July 29, the British newspaper officially announced Abuljadayel as an official shareholder. 

"The Independent has received investment from a new minority shareholder from Saudi Arabia," the report read

It also stated that Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel’s investment would “secure further strategic growth” for the news outlet, which last year became the first national newspaper to turn digital-only.

“At the same time, the editorial independence of The Independent has been formally protected by a new agreement between the shareholders,” the report added

The newspaper's editor, Christian Broughton reportedly addressed staff via email explaining that the publication “would remain truly independent of any shareholders or business interests”.

He also stressed that its reporting on Saudi Arabia would be unaffected.

“We will continue to expose injustice and abuse around the world, wherever we find it,” Broughton wrote.

Human rights campaigners concerned over the latest news

Even after the left-wing newspaper reassured the public that its reporting would be unaffected by the latest changes, the news sparked criticism among human rights activists. 

Most of them expressed concerns that the Saudi shareholder might control news coverage, especially when it comes to the Gulf region. 

Speaking to the Middle East Eye, activist Peter Tatchell said: 

"It would not seem consistent with the Independent's record of championing liberal values for a Saudi sultan to have a significant share in the ownership of this media outlet. A lot more questions need to be asked, and answered, before the public can be reassured that there is no clash of values between the sultan and the Independent."

Seamus Dooley, the acting general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, also spoke to MEE and shared his opinion on the matter. 

"The NUJ is in favour of maximum transparency in terms of media ownership, and we know nothing about this group," he said, referring to the investor.

"Also, there are serious concerns about Saudi and their relationship with the concept of media freedom and the record of anyone from Saudi in terms of human rights is something that would be of concern to us," he said