Turkey says Saudi Arabia will allow consulate search for missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Protesters hold a portrait of missing journalist and Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate on Tuesday in Istanbul. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images) October 9 at 7:09 AM
ISTANBUL â" Turkeyâs foreign ministry said Tuesday that authorities will search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as part of an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last week.
A statement from Turkish spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saudi authorities were âopen to cooperationâ and had stated their willingness to cooperate and would allow an examination of the consulate grounds. It was not clear when the search would take plac e.
Khashoggi, a Saudi writer and critic of the kingdomâs leadership, was last seen entering the consulate in Istanbulâs Levent district on Oct. 2, when he arrived to retrieve an administrative document. The Washington Post published Monday an image from a closed circuit television camera that a person close to the investigation said showed Khashoggiâs last known seconds, as he stepped inside the consulate door.
Turkish investigators believe that Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after he entered and his body was later removed from the premises, a U.S. official and sources close to the investigation said. Saudi officials have called the accusations âbaseless.â
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Monday that Saudi Arabia prove that journalist Khashoggi left the consulate on his own, as Saudi officials have repeatedly asserted, after he disappeared last week while inside the mission.
Erdoganâs comments were his most direct suggestion yet about potential Saudi culpability in Khashoggiâs disappearance.
âDo you not have cameras and everything of the sort?â Erdogan said of the consular officials at a news conference in the Hungarian capital, Budapest. âThey have all of them. Then why do you not prove this? You need to prove it.â
Turkeyâs foreign ministry had also summoned the Saudi ambassador to urge âfull cooperationâ in the investigation into Khashoggiâs disappearance, the official Anadolu news agency said Monday.
Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the Saudi leadership and a contributor to The Washington Postâs Global Opinions section, was killed by a team of 15 Saudis flown in specifically to carry out the attack.
In his first remarks about the disappearance, President Trump told reporters Monday afternoon that he was concerned. âI donât like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows a nything about it, but thereâs some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it,â Trump said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his own statement said that âwe have seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereaboutsâ of Khashoggi. Repeating Trumpâs expression of âconcern,â Pompeo, who had just returned from a trip to Asia, called on the Saudi government âto support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggiâs disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.â
[Missing journalistâs fiancee demands to know: âWhere is Jamal?â]
Members of Congress, where there has long been bipartisan skepticism about Saudi Arabia, have issued statements and tweets demanding answers from Riyadh. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in a string of tweets Monday that âif there is any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the US-Saudi relationship and there will be a heav y price to be paid â" economically and otherwise.â
Graham, who played golf Sunday with Trump at the presidentâs course in Sterling, Va., said that he had consulted with Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) over their âshared concerns regarding the whereabouts and treatmentâ of Khashoggi.
In a statement sent to journalists Monday, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, said that reports the kingdom had detained or killed Khashoggi were âabsolutely false and baseless. .â.â. I donât know who is behind these claims, or their intentions,â he said, ânor do I care frankly.â
âWhat we do care about is Jamalâs well-being and revealing the truth about what occurred,â the ambassador said. âJamal has many friends in the Kingdom, including myself, and despite our differences, and his choice to go into his so called âself-exile,â we still maintained regular conta ct when he was in Washington.â
The Saudi government, he said, was âfully cooperatingâ in the Turkish governmentâs investigation. âJamal is a Saudi citizen whose safety and security is a top priority for the Kingdom.â
In a meeting Sunday night with The Postâs publisher, Fred Ryan, the ambassador said it was âimpossibleâ that such a crime could be covered up by consulate employees âand we wouldnât know about it.â
Khalid told Ryan that Khashoggi, who was once close to the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, had âalways been honestâ and that his criticism of the current Saudi leadership âhas been sincere.â
During the meeting, Ryan expressed The Postâs âgrave concernâ about Khashoggiâs disappearance, and said the news organization would view any Saudi government involvement in his disappearance as a flagrant attack on one of its journalists.
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