Turkey closely monitoring Saudi journalist Khashoggi's disappearance, Erdoğan says

07 October, 2018, 18:00 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Turkey launches probe into Saudi journalist's disappearance

A prominent Saudi journalist and critic of the regime was murdered at the country's consulate in Istanbul last week by a 15-member team sent specifically for the objective, Turkish officials claimed yesterday.

Riyadh says Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, had left the consulate but Ankara says he is still inside.

His disappearance and reported murder in Istanbul "sends a petrifying signal to peaceful dissidents and critics that they are at risk even outside the country, and that the authorities are targeting them one by one wherever they can do so", said Lynn Maalouf, the director of Middle East Research at Amnesty International.

Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi national, went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Fears are growing over missing Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, after Turkish officials said they believe he has been murdered.

"If Khashoggi was indeed murdered inside a diplomatic facility, it is an act of terror that echoes Russian and Chinese tactics of extraterritorial, extrajudicial attacks on dissidents, meant to intimidate any who would speak out against the Saudi government, no matter where they may be, and giving the lie to official narratives of 'reform" in Saudi Arabia, ' said Summer Lopez, PEN America's senior director of free expression programs.

Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team "came from Saudi Arabia".

They did not give any evidence for the claim, nor suggest how he was killed.

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Khashoggi is a familiar face on political talk shows on Arab satellite television networks and used to advise Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States and Britain.

Mr Khashoggi has also criticised Saudi Arabia's role in Yemen, where Riyadh leads a military coalition fighting alongside the government in its war with Iran-backed rebels.

The killing, if confirmed, would mark a stunning escalation of Saudi Arabia's effort to silence dissent.

"Advocates of liberty and freedom of thought in Turkey will follow this case closely", said Erdoğan and added, "I, as President of Turkey, personally follow this case closely as well". Turkish authorities have said that Khashoggi never left the consulate. But Turan Kislakci added that diplomatic cars had been seen moving in and out.

"We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises", he said, which is Saudi sovereign territory. "We have nothing to hide".

The Committee to Protect Journalists said it was alarmed by reports Khashoggi may have been killed inside the consulate.

A Saudi source at the consulate denied that Khashoggi had been killed at the mission and said in a statement that the accusations were baseless.

Khashoggi, who was a harsh critic of the Saudi regime, visited the consulate to prepare paperwork for his forthcoming marriage to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside.

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