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Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi Arabia lets Turkey search consulate

11 October 2018

Decades of close U.S. -Saudi relations, which have only intensified under Trump, appeared in jeopardy by the suggestion of a carefully plotted murder of a government critic, Jamal Khashoggi, 59, who disappeared a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

A source quoted by The Washington Post said the journalist was killed by a 15-member Saudi team sent "specifically for the murder".

An official at Saudi Arabia's Consulate General in Istanbul has strongly dismissed reports that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed within the consulate, state-news agency SPA reported.

But the ministry did not provide a timeline when that might happen.

The surveillance image, which the newspaper said it received from a "person close to the investigation", includes an October 2 time stamp of Khashoggi, 59, walking to the consulate's main entrance.

Turkey can not remain silent over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper on Thursday, adding Turkey is investigating all aspects of the case. Turkey's forensic analysis examined all the CCTV footage for the consulate entrances and exits, for the area around the consulate, and at the airport, and could find no sign of Khashoggi.

"In other words, he did not mind walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul because he did not believe that something bad could happen on Turkish soil", Cengiz wrote. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded Riyadh to prove his departure from the building.

Turkish officials later announced that they believed Khashoggi was murdered inside of the consulate and that his body was transported out of the building.

Private broadcaster NTV reported on October 9 that all suspects were seen entering the consulate half an hour before Khashoggi and leaving it after nearly three hours. Erdogan has said he would await the results of an investigation.

Istanbul prosecutors are investigating the incident, while the consulate said on Twitter that it was working in coordination with Turkish authorities. "Hopefully that will sort itself out", the president added.

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Khashoggi has been an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, causing him to leave his home country previous year to live in exile in the United States.

On Wednesday, the Post published a column by Cengiz, who said her fiance first visited the consulate on September 28 "despite being somewhat concerned that he could be in danger". Officials in Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But senior members of Congress with access to US intelligence reporting feared the worst.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has been documenting the increasingly harsh treatment of journalists in Saudi Arabia. He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who has dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Khashoggi had written a series of columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia's assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led a widely publicized drive to reform the Sunni monarchy but has also presided over the arrests of activists and businessmen.

Saudi Arabia has now invited Turkish experts and related officials to visit the consulate, according to Turkey's foreign ministry.

He noted 47 U.S. senators recently voted to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia - four short of a majority.

"The Saudi consulate officials in Istanbul can't get away with [simply] saying 'he left the building.' The claimants are obligated to prove their claims".

"We have seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi", Pompeo said in a statement late Monday.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a longtime critic of the Saudi government, said he'll try to force a vote in the Senate this week blocking USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi Arabia lets Turkey search consulate