Monday, 22 October, 2018

Jamal Khashoggi disappearance: Saudi Arabia allows Turkey to search consulate

People hold posters of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Modal Trigger People hold posters of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Getty Images
Ellis Copeland | 09 October, 2018, 19:04

"Right now, nobody knows anything about it". "I do not like it". He entered the consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage.

"Jamal has many friends in Saudi Arabia, and I am one of them", he said in a statement, saying the two had kept in touch while he was living overseas "despite differences". His disappearance has sparked global concerns, particularly after Turkish sources said over the weekend that authorities believed he had been killed inside the consulate.

As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticising its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

In March, the State Department approved a $670 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia, part of a promised $110 billion in deals touted by Trump after his first presidential trip to the Saudi capital past year.

Recall that in June of a year ago, several Arab states - including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) - broke relations with Qatar and imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar. It could cause the US and Europe to reevaluate their relationships with Saudi Arabia, and with Turkish officials so enraged by this, it could trigger a more serious response. It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts of Khashoggi.

Fusun Arsava, an worldwide law professor at Ankara's Atilim University, told Al-Monitor that even if reports of Khashoggi's murder were true, that would be extremely hard for the Turkish authorities to prove.

"They're under pressure from members of Congress and the press".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Monday that Saudi Arabia prove that journalist Khashoggi left the consulate on his own, as Saudi officials have repeatedly asserted, after he disappeared last week while inside the mission.

The ambassador declined to discuss the matter further, instead saying, "We don't want to harm the investigation".

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During a press conference in Hungary on Monday, Erdogan said he himself was following the investigation, saying it was his political and humanitarian duty.

Senior officials in Ankara remain convinced Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi state hit squad sent to Istanbul to abduct or kill him, who were lying in wait when he arrived at the consulate last Tuesday afternoon.

He visited the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documentation to finalize his divorce; his Turkish fiancée waited for him outside the building, and reported him missing after he didn't return.

A statement from Turkish spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saudi authorities were "open to cooperation" and had stated their willingness to cooperate and would allow an examination of the consulate grounds.

Many Turkish journalists and Qatari citizens criticized false stories being spread about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"As if the Saudi authorities were asleep and there was a odd silence at a time when the news of Khashoggi's disappearance was spread in the world", he noted.

Turkish journalist Muhammad Kanabkali expressed astonishment at the claim by some media persons that Khashoggi has died. He has not been seen since entering the building on 2 October.

Yasin Aktay, who advises Erdogan in his ruling AK Party, also told Reuters that Turkish authorities believed a group of 15 Saudi nationals were "most certainly involved" in the matter, and added that statements by Saudi officials on the absence of camera records were not honest.

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