Turkish authorities to search Saudi consulate after dissident journalist vanishes

"We have seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi".

Missing writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national, was last seen visiting the consulate on Tuesday. Riyadh claims he exited through a back door, the Turks are dubious and the search is on for clues.

Mr Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the USA 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".

According to diplomatic sources, a diplomatic note was sent to the Turkish Foreign Ministry inviting Turkish officials to visit the consulate.

Turan Kislakci, a friend of Khashoggi, said the 59-year-old told him he had been invited to return to Riyadh by the crown prince to act as an adviser.

The Saudi government has repeatedly claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, but his fiancee who was waiting outside said he never appeared.

"I don't like hearing about it, and hopefully that will sort itself out". Turkey has demanded answers about what happened to the exile in the building, and the government has summoned the Saudi ambassador twice to get them.

The Turkish security establishment concluded Khashoggi's killing was directed from the top because only the most senior Saudi leaders could order an operation of such scale and complexity, the Times' source said.

On Saturday, Turkish officials told the Post that Khashoggi had been killed at the Saudi consulate. Rumors from within the Turkish government have portrayed these individuals as a squad dispatched from Saudi Arabia to abduct or murder Khashoggi.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were "open to cooperation" and would allow the consulate building to be searched.

A week ago, Jamal Khashoggi went inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get a document needed to get married.

Meanwhile, a small group of journalists and NGO members staged a protest outside Saudi consulate in Istanbul to denounce the disappearance of Khashoggi. While the oil-rich kingdom is spending millions of dollars to paint the crown prince as a reformist moderate, Congress is increasingly concerned over the humanitarian impact of the US-backed Saudi-led war in Yemen while Trump himself has ripped Riyadh amid rising oil prices.

Saudi officials have denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and alleged murder, saying he left the consulate on October 2.

A member of the Saudi elite, he had remained in exile in the United States for much of the past year, from where he wrote columns for The Washington Post critiquing aspects of the Kingdom's reform programme.

US President Donald Trump has told reporters he will speak with Saudi officials to discuss the case. Cengiz called on President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to "help shed light" on Khashoggi's disappearance.

United Nations rights office spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, on Tuesday echoed calls for "a prompt, impartial and independent investigation of the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and to keep the findings public" in comments to journalists in Geneva.

It was the second time in two days that the ambassador had been questioned by the Foreign Office about what the Saudi royal family may know about Khashoggi's disappearance.



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