Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing on Tuesday, was allegedly killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkish authorities told the country’s press on Saturday. He was a fierce critic of the Saudi regime and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Major media outlets reported on Monday that Turkey had sought a search of the Saudi consulate.
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” a Turkish official told the Reuters news agency.
Khashoggi went to the consulate on Tuesday for an appointment with officials regarding some documents he needed for his forthcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée. His fiancée waited for eleven hours for him to emerge out of the consulate.
The Saudis strongly denied the allegations, with the state-run Saudi Press Agency carrying a Istanbul consulate statement on Sunday morning. In the statement, the consulate strongly denounced these “baseless allegations”, and questioned whether they came from Turkish officials who were involved in the probe, and whether were authorized to speak about it.
Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in Washington for the past year, fearing retribution for his criticism of the Saudi regime and its policies. He had once been very close to the regime and enjoyed very good relations with the royal family. He had also served as a close aide and adviser to the former Saudi intelligence chief, Turki Al-Faisal.
He worked in various prominent Saudi dailies and newspapers, including state-owned ones, such as the Saudi Gazette, al-Madina, al-Watan and Al-Arab. In between, he served as media adviser to Al-Faisal, the former spy chief who was at that time the ambassador to the US. After leaving the country,
Khashoggi wrote regular opinions column for the Washington Post, and participated in debates on news channels.
A senior Turkish police source was also quoted by Middle East Eye as saying that the police believed that Khashoggi was “brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces” inside the consulate on Tuesday.
Khashoggi had reportedly instructed his fiancée to call Yasin Aktay, a former AKP MP, if he did not come out of the consulate within a few hours. Aktay told CNN Turk on Sunday that the country’s authorities had ‘concrete information’ regarding this matter and that it wouldn’t remain an unresolved crime. He also pointed out that Turkish authorities were unable to determine Khashoggi’s exit from the consulate, noting the absence of any camera footage to confirm the same, even as Saudi officials insisted that he left after some time.
Aktay also claimed that Turkish police were examining the role of 15 Saudi nationals. Police said the 15 Saudi officials came to Istanbul on two private flights on Tuesday. They were also reportedly at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi. Saudi Authorities have acknowledged sending a “security delegation” to Turkey but have clarified that they had no links to the disappearance of Khashoggi.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that he was following the issue closely and that the world would be informed of the outcome once the investigation was complete.
On Friday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman told Bloomberg that Turkish authorities were welcome to search the consulate as they had “nothing to hide.”