Turkish authorities to search Saudi consulate after dissident journalist vanishes

Lester Mason
October 10, 2018

The search proved fruitless and the plane took off again afterwards, it said. Cengiz called on President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to "help shed light" on Khashoggi's disappearance.

Turkish authorities have told MEE they believe Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and critic of the Saudi govenrment, was killed soon after entering the building. The Foreign Ministry said Saudi officials have indicated their willingness to cooperate in the investigation.

After leaving the consulate grounds, three cars turned left on to a main road while the remaining three turned right. He was living in the US before he traveled to Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and USA resident, had written articles critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations allowed for consulates to be searched by authorities of a host country with consent of the mission chief, he said.

His disappearance is likely to further deepen divisions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

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 surveillance image bore a date and time stamp, as well as a Turkish caption saying that Khashoggi was arriving at the consulate.

Turkish investigators have hinted they know more about the disappearance than they have disclosed. Closed-circuit TV camera feeds from the preschool opposite the rear entrance have been retrieved by Turkish intelligence, and images from outside the hotels are also being reviewed, according to people familiar with the probe.

Turkish police operate at least one camera at the front of the building.

The two Turkish sources told Reuters on Saturday that Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was deliberately killed inside the consulate, a view echoed by one of Erdogan's advisers, Yasin Aktay, who is a friend of the Saudi journalist.

Yemeni Nobel Prize victor Tawakkol Karman, centre, participates at a demonstration for Khashoggi that was organized by the Turkish-Arabic Media Association in front of the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Friday.


"If the story that was told about the murder is true, the Turks must have information and videotape and other documents to back it up", Fred Hiatt, the Post's editorial page editor, told The Associated Press.

"His criticism, voiced over the past year, most surely rankles Mohammed bin Salman, who was elevated to crown prince last year and has carried out a wide-ranging campaign to silence dissent while trying to modernize the kingdom", the Post editorial read.

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.

The UN's human rights office has said it would be "truly shocking" if the grisly reports coming from Turkish officials are confirmed. The consulate insists the writer left its premises, contradicting Turkish officials.

"Now when this person enters, whose duty is it to prove that he left or not? Why don't you prove it, you have to prove it".

Saudi Arabia, which has denied the accusations, is under huge global pressure, including from the U.S. and the European Union, to support a "thorough and open" probe into the journalist's disappearance. Turkey sent food to Qatar and deployed troops at its military base there.

This is viewer supported news. Saudi Arabia is also unhappy about Ankara's growing proximity to the kingdom's Shiite rival, Iran.

Saudi officials and consulate workers denied murder allegations and claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate, but failed to provide any evidence of his exit from the facility.

Neil Quilliam, a senior research fellow for the Middle East and North Africa at the Chatham House think tank, said the Saudis were sure to notice when Trump said he knew "nothing" about Khashoggi's case.

'I am concerned about that, ' Trump said.

Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey, and Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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