Saturday, 15 December, 2018

US Calls for ‘Thorough’ Probe Into Missing Saudi Journalist

Alleged Saudi Murder of Washington Post Columnist Prompts Calls to Halt U.S. Relations with Regime Turkey believes missing Saudi journalist was murdered at Saudi consulate in Istanbul
Ellis Copeland | 10 October, 2018, 13:52

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted, "I pray Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is alive".

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who had lived in Washington for the past year, has not been heard from or seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday, his fiancée and friends have said.

Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the consulate last week. He had been living since past year in the United States, in self-imposed exile, in part due to the rise of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has shown little tolerance for criticism. However, the consulate has other entrances and exits as well, through which Saudi officials insist he left.

The Foreign Office has never had any illusions that the Saudi economic and social modernisation programme under the crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the de facto ruler, includes any commitment to free expression or a turn towards democracy.

The writer's Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz said he first visited the consulate on 28 September and returned on 2 October after being promised paperwork he required so that the two could marry.

She expresses confidence in the Turkish government officials investigating and adds, "At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance".

"We agree if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the US-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid - economically and otherwise".

A surveillance image has emerged that shows Khashoggi entering the consulate on the day he disappeared.

Neil Quilliam, a senior research fellow for the Middle East and North Africa at the Chatham House think tank, said the Saudis were sure to notice when Trump said he knew "nothing" about Khashoggi's case.

Turkish officials, who are examining the squad's movements, have now expanded their investigation to explore what happened at the residence of the Saudi consul general, Mohammed al-Otaibi, located 500 yards from the consulate.

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The newspaper said that two private Gulfstream IV planes belonging to a charter service that has often worked with the Saudi government, Sky Prime Aviation, took off from Riyadh on the morning of October 2 carrying 15 passengers - all intelligence agents or government officials.

"Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there", the Post quoted a person familiar with the information as saying. Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the investigation was "continuing intensively".

The US president told reporters on Monday: "Hopefully that will sort itself out".

Another senior Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic strategy, said Ankara hoped that Washington and the global community would take the lead in challenging Saudi Arabia over the fate of Khashoggi, a legal resident of the United States and a columnist for The Washington Post.

Turkey says it will conduct a search of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

Ankara has provided no evidence that Mr Khashoggi was killed in the building. "Now, nobody will dare to speak and criticize the reforms", Khashoggi said.

Turkey's state-run news agency, quoting police, has said 15 Saudi nationals arrived in Istanbul aboard two planes and were inside the consulate building when Khashoggi went missing.

United Nations spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said the "apparent enforced disappearance" of Khashoggi is a matter of "deep concern" to the human rights office in a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday.

Khashoggi was once a Saudi newspaper editor and is a familiar face on political talk shows on Arab satellite television networks.

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