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Turkey Claims Saudis Killed, Chopped Up Journalist — NY Times

10 October 2018

The State Department said today it's still trying to sort out what happened to a missing Saudi journalist who had been living in exile in America for a year due to his high-profile criticism of the kingdom's rulers.

Khashoggi, a regime critic and prominent journalist in Saudi Arabia, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The obvious difficulty of imposing ambitious reforms on the Kingdom led the administration to cut MBS some slack for heavy-handed tactics, but if Khashoggi was kidnapped or murdered by Saudi officers in Turkey (with his corpse dismembered to dispose of the evidence, according to the most lurid rumors in Turkish circles) it could become a major diplomatic crisis for the White House. Riyadh claims he exited through a back door, the Turks are dubious and the search is on for clues.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud told Bloomberg on Friday that Khashoggi was not in the consulate, and his country is investigating.

Turkish officials have left things murky enough - speaking on condition of anonymity and refusing to publicly disclose their evidence - that such possibilities can not be ruled out. Turkish officials have accused the Saudis of imprisoning or murdering him because he criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his policies related to Qatar, Iran, and political Islam.

Officials say the convoy left the consulate around two hours after Khashoggi entered. A surveillance photo published by The Washington Post shows Khashoggi entering the consulate.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has met ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud to "seek answers", a day after Downing Street said the United Kingdom was "working urgently" to establish the facts behind the disappearance.

Turkish police were limited to footage from two street cameras that monitor the street outside the consulate after Saudi officials claimed that security cameras inside the consulate were not working at the time of last week's incident.

Turkey conveyed its expectation of "full cooperation" from Riyadh in search of Khashoggi, Anadolu Agency reported.

If that doesn't happen soon, it's clear that Britain and its allies are likely to conclude that Saudi Arabia has crossed an unacceptable line. Given America's silence about the extortion of detainees' funds to secure their release, MBS must be confident that the Trump administration "will do nothing about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia", Riedel wrote, adding, "He is probably right".

The ambassador said the Istanbul consulate is fully cooperating with local authorities and that a Saudi team was sent to Istanbul to cooperate with their Turkish counterparts.

Reports of Jamal Khashoggi being detained and killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul are "absolutely false and baseless", said Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States said in a statement.

Turkish authorities have been given access to search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul as part of an investigation into a missing dissident journalist.

Protestors hold pictures of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, on October 8, 2018.

"The consulate building will be searched in the framework of the investigation", Aksoy said in a written statement.

"This is of serious concern, the apparent enforced disappearance of Khashoggi from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul", Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the human rights office, told reporters in Geneva.

Later on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that USA intelligence had intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi, citing a source familiar with the situation.

Officials in Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkey Claims Saudis Killed, Chopped Up Journalist — NY Times