Turkey says authorities have concrete information on missing Saudi journalist

Lamar Ellis
October 10, 2018

He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who has dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

On Tuesday he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get documents for his forthcoming marriage.

The journalist was visiting the consulate in Istanbul to get documents which show he has divorced his wife so that he could go ahead with marrying his Turkish fiancee. His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, had waited outside. "The consulate officials can not save themselves by simply saying 'he has left, '" Erdogan told a news conference in Budapest.

Khashoggi's fiancee could not immediately be contacted but she said in a Tweet that there had been no official confirmation of the Turkish sources' statements.

Saudi Arabia, naturally, has denied any involvement.

In an interview with Russia Today, the adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey was not accusing the Kingdom in Khashoggi's disappearance, hinting at the possibility of a conspiracy to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The image released by the Post bore a date and date stamp. They left for Riyadh, the Saudi capital, the same day.

"[The] Saudi authorities said they were open to cooperation and that a search can be conducted at the consulate building", the ministry's spokesperson, Hami Aksoy, said in a statement, adding that the search will be conducted in "an intensive manner".

The source said that after entering the embassy Khashoggi was taken in a black Mercedes S-500 and a white minivan with four Saudi officials to Istanbul airport.

Turkey summoned the Saudi ambassador on Sunday to request the kingdom's "full co-operation" in the investigation, a Foreign Ministry official said.

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When was he last seen?

In his debut September column for the Washington Post newspaper, he said that he and several others had gone into self-imposed exile because they feared being arrested.

The Post reported on the police's theory late Saturday, citing two anonymous sources. If there was evidence of a crime there, it will have been cleaned up days ago. "Such an assassination within the grounds of the Consulate, which is territory under Saudi Arabian jurisdiction, would amount to an extrajudicial execution", said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Mideast research director.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the Saudi leadership and a contributor to The Washington Post's Global Opinions section, was killed by a team of 15 Saudis flown in specifically to carry out the attack.

However, activists protesting outside the consulate said more needed to be done.

This could in theory make it possible to smuggle goods - or potentially a body - out of the country. It was not clear when the search might take place.

Consulate officials, however, are not protected from prosecution for "grave crimes" such as murder, and might also be subjected to a civil suit if Khashoggi's family chose to sue.

The country has demanded Saudi Arabia prove he left - despite not giving evidence of the claim he was killed inside. "It is [the duty] of the consulate officials", Mr Erdogan said this week. Among other things, as MBS told Bloomberg, the visit prompted Riyadh to commit to buying more than 60 percent of its weapons in the next decade from Washington. Why don't you prove it? "You need to prove it".

Worldwide pressure is also ramping up on Saudi Arabia to cooperate with the probe.

Mahoney said Khashoggi's disappearance is "designed, in a very brutal way, to send a message 'if you speak out against the Saudi government, if it could happen to him, it could happen to you"'.

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