Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Saudi Arabia denies 'baseless' reports of Turkish ambassador's expulsion

Saudi Arabia denies 'baseless' reports of Turkish ambassador's expulsion

"If Mr Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate, it will cast the Saudi regime and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a new and disturbing light and require a thorough reevaluation of US-Saudi relations", the newspaper said in an op-ed.

A Turkish official told the AP late Saturday that an "initial assessment" by police concluded Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate.

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to obtain official documents in order to be able to marry his Turkish fiancée.

She said Mr Khashoggi was required to surrender his mobile phone, which is standard practice in some diplomatic missions.

Jamal Khashoggi, journalist and regular columnist for the Washington Post, has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He has not been heard of since.

Ankara announced on Saturday it had opened an official probe into his disappearance.

"We demand the global community to pressure Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman to tell us exactly what happened inside the consulate ... and to tell us every detail of who was involved in this crime", Okda said.

The comments about Jamal Khashoggi come as Turkish officials are investigating his whereabouts.

Protesters gathered outside the Saudi consulate on Monday with banners reading "We will not leave without Jamal Khashoggi", demanding to know what had happened to the reporter.

Before his disappearance, Khoshaggi had been living since a year ago in the self-imposed exile, after he fled the kingdom amid a crackdown on intellectuals and activists who criticized policies of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

"He disagreed with some of the policies of Mohammed bin Salman, but he was not a political dissident, he's not leading any organised network, he was a journalist - he wanted to write and to speak freely, and that was the reason he left Saudi Arabia".

Saudi Arabia launched a modernisation campaign following Prince Mohammad´s appointment as heir to the throne with moves such as lifting a ban on women driving.

In a statement on Sunday, Mutasem Khashoggi, the legal adviser to the Khashoggi family in Saudi Arabia, told al-Arabiya news that he believed external parties were using his brother's disappearance to "push their agenda". The case would not go unsolved, Aktay said.

The source noted "Saudi Arabia's appreciation for the brotherly Turkish government's acceptance of the request".

Reuters journalists toured the six-storey consulate in northern Istanbul which Khashoggi entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. "I personally think the possibility of him being killed is stronger than other possibilities, although I do not want to accept it. Our expectation of full cooperation during the investigation process [on missing journalist] was conveyed to him", said a diplomatic source.

He has lived in the United States since a year ago to avoid possible arrest, and has written a series of columns for the Post on Saudi affairs.

Saudi officials insist Khashoggi left shortly after he entered but his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside, says he never came out. Siding with the opposition in Egypt and Syria, Khashoggi became a vocal critic of his own government's stance there and a defender of moderate Islamists, which Riyadh considered an existential threat. The journalist had been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis recently stated, "We support our partner Saudi Arabia's right to self-defence".

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul initiated an investigation on the day of the incident while the consulate also said on Twitter that it was working in coordination with Turkish authorities.

He added that he still hoped the reports of his friend's death were untrue.

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