ANKARA-AP: A week after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul for some routine paperwork, the mystery over his disappearance remains unresolved: Turkish officials allege he was killed in the compound; the Saudis say he left the building unharmed.
The case has alarmed human rights activists concerned over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on dissent and strained already-tense relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The United States and other Saudi allies have taken a cautious approach toward Khashoggi’s disappearance, expressing concern but refraining from any strong comments against the oil-rich kingdom.
“I am concerned about it. I don’t like hearing about it,” President Donald Trump told reporters as he returned to Washington from Florida. “And hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows anything about it.”
The 59-year-old contributor to the Washington Post spent last year in the U.S. in self-imposed exile after he fled Saudi Arabia amid a crackdown on intellectuals and activists who criticized the policies of Prince Mohammed. He was last seen by his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, entering the consulate to obtain a document needed for their marriage. She and Turkish officials say he never emerged, even though Saudi Arabia insists he left the building.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged the Saudis to back up their claim that Khashoggi left the consulate.
“Now when this person enters, whose duty is it to prove that he left or not? It is (the duty) of the consulate officials,” Erdogan said during a visit to Hungary. “Don’t you have cameras and other things? Why don’t you prove it, you have to prove it.”
Turkish officials have said the authorities believe that Khashoggi was most likely slain inside the consulate building and that his body was later removed from the premises, though they haven’t provided any evidence.