Saudi journalist disappearance ruffles feathers in Washington

Sergio Conner
October 10, 2018

But Turkey has formally requested access to search the Saudi Consulate as part of what Turkish officials say is a murder investigation.

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

Saudi prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who has fled to Germany after the empowerment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, called on people to overthrow the current rulers in Riyadh after the recent murder of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Al-e Saud.

Flight data collected by AirNavRadarBox, a firm that tracks private and commercial planes all over the world, showed that the first of the two planes left Riyadh late October 1 and touched down in Istanbul the following day at 3:15 a.m. The media also reported that a 15-member Saudi hit team had arrived in Turkey and entered the consulate shortly before Khashoggi's arrival.

That means Turkish police can not enter and search the consulate unless they get permission from the Saudi authorities, which they have now reportedly received. That doesn't negate the fact that Khashoggi disappeared at or about the time he was supposed to be inside the consulate, and those circumstances don't leave a lot of room for other suspects.

"The Saudi Consulate can not absolve itself of responsibility for this incident by allowing its premises to be searched", said Gulseren Yoleri of the Human Rights Association. The Post, which first published the photo, said "a person close to the investigation" shared the image with them, without elaborating.

Speaking from Ankara the same day, Erdogan said, "As president, I am pursuing". He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who has dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler. Saudi officials insisted he left the building through another exit, but have not provided public evidence to prove it. Security camera footage shows boxes being loaded into the van, which carried diplomatic number plates.

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Some analysts said the women's arrests were not "surprising" and were in line with Saudi Arabia's top-down vision - that change only comes from the throne.

Khashoggi's last column for the Post, in which he attacked MBS's signature foreign policy initiative-the disastrous war in Yemen-may have been the proverbial straw for the crown prince. She said he had been "somewhat concerned that he could be in danger" when making his first visit September 28 but had been encouraged by a "positive" first meeting with consular staff.

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.

Saudi Arabia calls the accusation "baseless", but has also offered nothing to prove he ever left the building. "Why don't you prove it, you have to prove it". CNN has not been able to independently confirm these reports, and the Saudi government has denied them.

On a positive note, the very bad crime in Turkey should at least put Saudi Arabia under closer scrutiny. Turkey sent food to Qatar and deployed troops at its military base there.

President Donald Trump, who took his first overseas trip as US president to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said he had concerns.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius recently noted that his friend Khashoggi had endured a crisis of conscience a year ago when MBS was jailing and torturing his Saudi friends.

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