Saudi Arabia to let Turkey search consulate over missing journalist

Sergio Conner
October 21, 2018

A pro-government Turkish newspaper has published the names and photographs of 15 Saudi nationals who allegedly arrived in Istanbul on board two private jets the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing. He has also criticised Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.

Earlier, U.S. officials warned that any harm done to the 59-year-old Washington Post contributor will jeopardize its relations with the kingdom, its close ally and the world's largest oil exporter.

"I don't like stopping massive amounts of money that's been pouring into our country. We're demanding everything. We want to see what's going on there", Trump said. He warned that the Saudis could instead buy from Russian Federation or China.

The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that it did not dismiss the possibility that Khashoggi's sudden disappearance was an attempt to silence the writer.

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside.

Turkish officials believe Khashoggi vanished October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was dismembered.

Investigators are also focusing on 15 Saudi men who entered the consulate around the same time as Khashoggi and left a short time later.

"He told me there is no solution except to arrange for this paper with the consulate in Turkey", said the friend, who was in frequent contact with Khashoggi in the days before he disappeared.

Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post that she was "confident in the abilities of Turkish government officials".

He says he's spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation", but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He did not elaborate.

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Earlier, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Turkey Walid Bin Abdul Karim El Khereiji was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Some officials came out more forcefully, including Vice President Mike Pence, reflecting what administration officials tell CNN is a growing concern about the crown prince's possible overreach at home and overseas, and its implications for the region.

Turkey is extremely interested in the investigation of the disappearance of Khashoggi, Erdogan said.

Turkish NTV broadcast videos of what it said were the men arriving at the airport and checking into one hotel, as well as videos of what it said was a large van arriving at the consul general's residence two hours after Khashoggi had entered the consulate.

Trump administration officials said there were still too many unanswered questions to draw any conclusions about what happened in Istanbul.

"Although from a distance the US-Saudi relationship appears rock solid, there are cracks in the foundation", said Robert Malley, a former White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf during the Obama administration. Her statement, posted below, made no mention of any action or acknowledgement on the Saudi side. He has championed the three-year military campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen that has pushed that nation toward starvation and caused many civilian deaths.

Khashoggi told Cengiz and several friends that officials in the consulate had treated him politely.

Still, the Trump administration last month stood behind its support for that campaign with weapons, logistics and intelligence, certifying that the Saudis were taking adequate steps to prevent civilian deaths despite mounting evidence to the contrary. On Tuesday, the White House said, Kushner and John R Bolton, the national security adviser, spoke to Mohammed bin Salman by phone about Khashoggi's disappearance.

The Associated Press could not confirm that report, but a USA -based friend of Khashoggi said the journalist had told him he had received a call from an adviser to the Saudi royal court in late May or early June urging him to return to his homeland. "We have nothing to hide", he said in an interview with English-language Bloomberg news network.

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