Turkey launches probe into Saudi journalist's disappearance

Turkey says journalist was murdered inside Saudi consulate

A prominent Saudi journalist and critic of the regime was murdered at the country's consulate in Istanbul last week by a 15-member team sent specifically for the goal, Turkish officials claimed yesterday.

Reacting to the news of his alleged murder, Mr Khashoggi's Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said she "did not believe he has been killed".

An official statement attributed to an unnamed official from the Saudi consulate said Saudi investigators arrived in Istanbul on Saturday with the consent of Turkish authorities to assist in the investigation "regarding the disappearance of the Saudi citizen".

A Turkish official separately told the AP that authorities believe Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate. One source told the Reuters news agency that elements in the Saudi consulate had planned Khashoggi's murder in the facility and when they killed the journalist, they moved the body outside. Another official confirmed the story.

Protesters hold up pictures of Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

Amnesty International has urged Riyadh to to "immediately disclose the evidence supporting their claim" that Khashoggi left the consulate, saying that "otherwise their claims are utterly baseless".

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"A journalist disappearing like this in a secure country like the Republic of Turkey is something that will be followed up with sensitivity", ruling party spokesman Omer Celik said, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Press freedom campaigners also condemned the journalist's disappearance.

Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied speculations that Riyadh had taken Khashoggi, stressing that Turkey could search the kingdom's Consulate in Istanbul for the journalis.

Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar a year ago in a show of support after its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

"We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are following them closely", the official said.

"I'm not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time", he added.

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Turan Kislakci, a friend who heads the Arab Turkish Media Association, said that Khashoggi received assurances from Saudi officials before his visit that he could enter safely.

"I believe late 2020, early 2021", Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg in an interview published late Friday when asked when he believed the IPO could be launched. "We have nothing to hide".

It's a theme he's been sounding for years, tweeting in March 2015 that if Saudi Arabia "wants our help and protection, they must pay dearly!"

Yasin Aktay told broadcaster CNN Turk that Khashoggi had not left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which he had entered on Tuesday to obtain documents for a forthcoming marriage, in "normal ways".

Khashoggi may have been considered especially unsafe by the Saudi leadership, analysts said.

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