Turkey to search Saudi consulate in Istanbul for missing journalist

Sergio Conner
October 9, 2018

Turkey said on Tuesday it planned to search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi vanished last week after entering the building to request paperwork.

Yasin Aktay, who advises Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in his ruling AK Party, 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.

Khashoggi - a frequent critic of the Saudi government - is feared to have been dismembered inside the consulate's walls.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged the Saudis to back up their claim that Khashoggi left the consulate.

"We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation", he said.

However, before Erdogan spoke, unnamed Turkish police sources as well as an adviser to Erdogan told the media that they believed that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate, which he entered October 2. He said he believes Turkish officials soon will announce the findings of their investigation.

What have the Saudis said?

He said that everyone in the Turkish media knows that no high-placed sources are available to speak on this issue. The consulate has also denied that Khashoggi was abducted.

Trump's comments coincided with a vehement denial from Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who said claims that Khashoggi had been killed or detained by Saudi authorities were "absolutely false, and baseless", according to a statement obtained by CNN.

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Reuters journalists toured the six-storey consulate in northern Istanbul which Khashoggi entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, had waited outside. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters about the subject.

The Post reported on the police's theory late Saturday, citing two anonymous sources.

"If the reports of Jamal's murder are true, it is a monstrous and unfathomable act", the Post's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said in a statement. It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country. "He writes out of a sense of love for his country and deep faith in human dignity and freedom".

Ties between Ankara and Riyadh are at a low point due to Turkey's support for Qatar in its year-long dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.

Khashoggi went missing in Istanbul last week.

The incident has put into sharp focus Saudi Arabia's young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's perceived crackdown on dissidents, his kingdom's delicate relationship with Turkey and Khashoggi 's influence within the royal court.

Over the past year Khashoggi used his platform as a Washington Post columnist to criticize the policies of Saudi Arabia's powerful young crown prince, from the war in Yemen to the arrest of women's rights advocates.

Similarly, Prince Mohammed wowed the business world with promises of having an initial public offering of the state oil behemoth Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco as it's known, suggesting it would have a $2 trillion valuation. A deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling AK Party says Ankara has concrete information on Khashoggi's disappearance.

Erdogan said police are looking at surveillance video of the consulate's entrances and exits, as well as at the Istanbul airport.

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