Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Turkey says will search consulate where Saudi journalist vanished

Turkey says will search consulate where Saudi journalist vanished

United Nations human rights experts called Tuesday for an investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

The head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, Turan Kislakci, told the New York Times that Turkish police officers providing security for the consulate had checked their security cameras and did not see the journalist leave on foot.

Erdogan told reporters on a flight back from Hungary that Turkey is anxious about the Khashoggi's disappearance. The Saudi consulate called the claim "baseless" on Twitter.

"If the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has evidence of such a horrific crime, it should immediately make it available to the family and other interested parties", the Post wrote in a Monday editorial.

A Turkish official separately told The Associated Press that authorities believe Jamal Khashoggi was slain at the Saudi Consulate, while another said it was a "high probability".

Khashoggi, 59, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate through the main entrance on October 2.

"We wouldn't normally broadcast an off-air conversation, but we've decided to make an exception, in light of the current circumstances", the British broadcaster said in a note published with the recording.

However, Saudi Arabia has offered no evidence to support its contention that the writer left the consulate unharmed and vanished into Istanbul while his fiancée waited impatiently outside.

But speaking to reporters afterward, Erdogan said he was awaiting a prosecutor's investigation about what had happened to Khashoggi. But he tempered his comments, saying: "Hopefully that will sort itself out". He had been living since previous year in the U.S.in a self-imposed exile, in part due to the rise of Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman.

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According to diplomatic sources, a diplomatic note was sent to the Turkish Foreign Ministry inviting Turkish officials to visit the consulate. "State Department senior officials have spoken with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through diplomatic channels about this matter".

Khashoggi had written a series of columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia's assertive Prince Mohammed, who has led a widely publicized drive to reform the conservative Sunni monarchy but has also presided over the arrests of activists and businessmen.

After several of his friends were arrested, his column was cancelled by the al-Hayat newspaper and he was allegedly warned to stop tweeting, Mr Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the U.S., from where he wrote opinion pieces for the Washington Post and continued to appear on Arab and Western TV channels.

The episode has put the United Kingdom in an awkward diplomatic position since it is close both to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. and working for the Washington Post before his disappearance, was a frequent critic of the kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he described as a "brash and abrasive young innovator" who was "acting like Putin".

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has been documenting the increasingly harsh treatment of journalists in Saudi Arabia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters about the subject.

"The Saudi Consulate can not absolve itself of responsibility for this incident by allowing its premises to be searched", said Gulseren Yoleri of the Human Rights Association. Right now, nobody knows anything about it, but there's some pretty bad stories going around.

Turkish investigators on Saturday concluded Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate, the Post reports.

The U.S.is concerned about Khashoggi's whereabouts, Nauert said, and would like to see the Saudi government conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened to him.

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