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Saudi source denies journalist Khashoggi was killed at consulate in Istanbul

09 October 2018

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Erdogan said "mere words are not enough evidence" to dispute the allegations that Khashoggi had been killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday. "We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate", a Turkish official told Reuters.

Turkey's state-run news agency, quoting police, says 15 Saudi nationals arrived in Istanbul on two planes and were inside the consulate building when Khashoggi went missing.

A source told MEE on Monday that a Turkish forensics team was poised to enter the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He has not been heard of since.

The source said Turkish officials were trying to identify them.

"The Turkish authorities have demanded to be allowed to search inside the consulate but they are still waiting for a response from the Saudi side", Mr Aktay told The Telegraph.

Well-known in worldwide media circles, Mr. Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate to obtain a certificate of his divorce from his estranged Saudi wife so that he may marry his Turkish fiancée. "If the Saudis are in fact proven to have killed Khashoggi, upholding US values and interests demand accountability, including use of sanctions or suspension of arms sales". On Sunday, the Saudi-owned television network Al-Arabiya reported that it had interviewed Khashoggi's family members and they challenged a key detail in the story of his disappearance: that he was engaged to be married.

"Normally we'd also have an ambassador in Saudi Arabia".

A journalist holding a poster of missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, speaks to camera near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, October 8, 2018.

Reuters journalists toured the six-storey consulate in northern Istanbul which Khashoggi entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage.

An adviser to Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, Yasin Aktay, said authorities had concrete information about Khashoggi's case, and he believed the journalist was killed in the consulate.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Riyadh give "a full and credible account" of what happened to Khashoggi inside the consulate.

A graduate of Indiana State University, Khashoggi began his career in the 1980s, covering the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the decade-long war that followed for the English-language daily Saudi Gazette. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar past year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

"If this is true - that the Saudis lured a US resident into their consulate and murdered him - it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia", Murphy wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he was awaiting the results of the investigation.

Fusun Arsava, an global law professor at Ankara's Atilim University, told Al-Monitor that even if reports of Khashoggi's murder were true, that would be extremely hard for the Turkish authorities to prove.

Khashoggi's alleged murder - if confirmed - threatens to undermine Riyadh's already strained relations with Ankara, and the fallout could also reach the United States, a key ally, experts said.

"We are hoping against hope that Mr Khashoggi is unharmed and will soon return to his writing desk", the Post said.

While some stale conventional wisdom holds that the United States can not simultaneously stand for principles of human dignity while also maintaining stable relations with autocratic allies who share its other interests, there is ample precedent otherwise.

Reuters Turkey Bureau chief, Dominic Evans was shown around the consulate this weekend as Saudi officials continue to insist that talk of his kidnapping is baseless.

His interview came a day after Trump told a cheering crowd of supporters at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, that Saudi King Salman would not last in power unless the U.S. provided military support for the Arab kingdom.

Saudi source denies journalist Khashoggi was killed at consulate in Istanbul