Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Istanbul police search Saudi consul's residence in Khashoggi probe

Istanbul police search Saudi consul's residence in Khashoggi probe

Last night, Turkish authorities spent nine hours searching the Saudi consul's residence while other crime scene teams searched the Saudi consulate. The secretary of state noted that the Saudi leaders, while denying knowledge of anything that occurred inside the consulate, had committed to accountability "including for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials".

The journalist has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, where Turkish officials allege he was killed.

President Donald Trump, who initially came out hard on the Saudis over the disappearance but since has backed off, said Wednesday that the US wanted Turkey to turn over any audio or video recording it had of Khashoggi's alleged killing "if it exists".

The US president has been on the defensive ever since Khashoggi - a US resident and Washington Post contributor who had criticised Prince Mohammed - vanished on Oct 2 after visiting the Istanbul consulate.

"Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate", Khashoggi wrote.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump co-signed Saudi Arabia's Khashoggi cover-up, saying "rogue killers" could be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of the 59-year-old writer.

"The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power", Khashoggi added. "I will not be going", he said.

To date, Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving.

Khashoggi called for the creation of an "independent worldwide forum" to allow ordinary people in the Arab world to address "the structural problems" their societies face.

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Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who fled for the US amid the rise of the crown prince, praised Tunisia as the only "free" nation in the Arab world and Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait as "partly free".

However, they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consulate were not recording at the time.

A Turkish source who listened to the audio recording told MEE that Khashoggi's murder lasted approximately seven minutes.

The report said it was unclear if he was dead or alive at the time.

Khashoggi in the past said he always considered himself a patriot, viewing his criticism of the Saudi government as a sign of his love for Saudi Arabia and a desire for conditions there to improve.

Despite mounting pressure on Donald Trump to take a harder line against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who he views as a key ally in the region - the United States president has resisted calls for sanctions.

One suspect, Mr Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi embassy in London in 2007, it said, citing a British diplomatic roster.

He also held high positions in the Interior Ministry and the kingdom's top medical school, the report said.

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