Turkey demands convincing explanation on 'missing' Saudi journalist

Frederick Owens
October 11, 2018

Turkish officials have not stated how they determined that Khashoggi was killed at the consulate.

Decades of close U.S. -Saudi relations, which have only intensified under Trump, appeared in jeopardy by the suggestion of a carefully plotted murder of a government critic, Jamal Khashoggi, 59, who disappeared a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

The official strongly denounced the report by Reuters news agency, calling them "baseless allegations", adding that he has doubts they came from Turkish officials "who are informed of the investigation or are authorized to comment on the issue".

Missing writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national, was last seen visiting the consulate on Tuesday.

Turkey reportedly says it is scouring road cameras for a black van believed to have carried Mr Khashoggi's body from the consulate, while the Washington Post released CCTV footage of the journalist entering the building on Monday.

Turkish investigators believe that Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after he entered and his body was later removed from the premises, a US official and sources close to the investigation said. Their ambassador to the U.S. insists that he personally had a friendly relationship with Khashoggi and remained in contact whenever both of them were in Washington.

'It is like Pulp Fiction, ' a Turkish official told the Times. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar previous year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha. It could cause the USA and Europe to reevaluate their relationships with Saudi Arabia, and with Turkish officials so enraged by this, it could trigger a more serious response.

Turkey says it will conduct a search of the Istanbul consulate, while Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said the country was "open to co-operation" and a search of the building could go ahead.

Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish woman, wrote an op-ed Tuesday in The Washington Post, the newspaper which also regularly printed commentary by her missing fiancee, Jamal Khashoggi.

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"For more than a year before his disappearance, Mr. Khashoggi was a resident of the United States, which gives the Trump administration a basis and an obligation to demand answers and relevant evidence from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey".

"We wouldn't normally broadcast an off-air conversation, but we've decided to make an exception, in light of the current circumstances", the British broadcaster said in a note published with the recording.

Cengiz called on President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to "help shed light" on Khashoggi's disappearance.

He proposed the Saudi people pave the ground for transferring power to Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi King Salman's younger brother who is in exile in Britain, and form a new government based on the constitution.

"We have to get an outcome from this investigation as soon as possible".

Khalid told Ryan that Khashoggi, who was once close to the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, had "always been honest" and that his criticism of the current Saudi leadership "has been sincere". "It would be a violation of worldwide law to harm, arrest or detain people at a diplomatic mission, he said, and noted that no such thing had ever happened in Turkey's history".

Turkish officials believe Khashoggi, a fierce critic of Riyadh's policies and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was likely murdered inside the mission where he had gone to obtain an official document for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish partner.

A Sunni power, Saudi Arabia is also annoyed by Ankara's rapprochement with the kingdom's Shiite archrival, Iran.

When asked by reporters on Monday about the disappearance on Monday, Trump said, "I am concerned about it".

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