Turkey’s Erdogan tells Saudis to prove missing journalist left Istanbul consulate

Cheryl Sanders
October 9, 2018

Turkey has asked for permission to search Saudi Arabia's consulate for prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing last week, broadcaster NTV said on Monday.

Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post who has been living in the United States since previous year after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman instituted a crackdown on those critical of his policies, went to the consulate to get paperwork so he could marry his fiancee.

He said he was personally following the case but had no new evidence to table.

The two Turkish sources told Reuters that Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was deliberately killed inside the consulate, a view echoed by one of Erdogan's advisers, Yasin Aktay, who is a friend of the Saudi journalist.

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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Khashoggi disappeared immediately afterward.

"See when I hear arrest of a friend who did nothing that is worth to be arrested, make me feel I shouldn't go".

"I no longer feel like I am really alive", Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancé, told the Washington Post.

Erdogan's comments were his most direct suggestion yet of potential Saudi culpability in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Saudi authorities have called the charges "baseless".

Stating that he does not call himself "an opposition" to Saudi Arabia, he said: "I always say I'm just a writer, I want a free environment to write and speak my mind".

The Washington Post said on Sunday that the USA should "demand answers" from its close allies the Saudis, and after a long, much-criticised period of silence, the White House responded to the allegations on Monday.

The Washington Post editorial board said Sunday that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States "bear inescapable responsibility" to act in response to Khashoggi's disappearance.

But since the emergence of Prince Mohammed, 33, as the center of power in the kingdom a year ago, Khashoggi has been openly critical of the monarchy. "And hopefully that will sort itself out", Trump said.

Prince Mohammed said in an interview published by Bloomberg on Friday that the journalist had left the consulate and Turkish authorities could search the building, which is Saudi sovereign territory.

Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on RSF's World Press Freedom Index, has launched a modernization campaign since Prince Mohammed's appointment as heir to the throne.

The Turkish president had struck a measured tone when pressed on Khashoggi, while allowing government officials and state media to drip-feed allegations. "God willing, we will not face an undesired situation", he told reporters, avoiding confirming claims that the journalist was killed. It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country. 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. "A team of 15 Saudis arrived on two planes to carry out the killing, officials have said", 'The Washington Post' reported.

Other reports by iNewsToday