Turkish police also believe the Saudi dissident was killed by a team of assassins “especially sent to Istanbul and who left the same day”.
In a meeting with The Washington Post’s publisher, Fred Ryan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States said Sunday night that it was “impossible” that such a crime could be covered up by consulate employees “and we wouldn’t know about it”.
Turkish authorities suspect Khashoggi was murdered while inside the building, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he is now personally involved in the case. the BBC reported.
He also alleged the Saudi government had pressured the publisher of Arabic daily newspaper Al-Hayat to cancel his column and said he was told to stop tweeting to his 1.8 million followers after he cautioned against the country’s “overly enthusiastic embrace” of then US President-elect Donald Trump in late 2016. Details of the convoy were disclosed by the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper.
Khashoggi said Saudis were expected to “accept, with gratitude, the social reforms that I have long called for while keeping silent on other matters – ranging from the Yemen quagmire, hastily executed economic reforms, the blockade of Qatar, discussions about an alliance with Israel to counter Iran, and last year’s imprisonment of dozens of Saudi intellectuals and clerics”.
“Consulate officials can not save themselves by saying that he left the building…” His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, had waited outside. Police said earlier that about 15 Saudis arrived in Istanbul on two flights last Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.
He said the consulate was equipped with cameras but they did not record footage, so no images could be retrieved of Khashoggi entering or leaving the consulate, which is ringed by police barriers and has high security fences topped with barbed wire.
“We protect Saudi Arabia”.
Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, has launched a modernisation campaign since Prince Mohammed’s appointment as heir to the throne.
Khashoggi has been in self-imposed exile for the past year.
Khashoggi had sought assurances about his safety from friends in the USA before visiting the consulate and had asked Cengiz to contact Turkish authorities if he failed to emerge.
“The consulate should make a clear explanation”, he added, drawing a contrast to a troubled and less-assertive period of Turkey’s recent past. The disappearance has shocked many in Turkey and caused alarm in some quarters of Riyadh.
The discrepancy between the multiple anonymous allegations to the news media and top officials’ public reticence raised questions about whether Ankara would stand behind the leaks or whether it was seeking to avoid what could be a hugely disruptive fight with Riyadh.
The British Foreign Office said in a statement it was “working urgently” to verify the “extremely serious” allegations. “We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are following them closely”, the offcial said.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia relations are already at a deep low.
The prince said that the murder should be regarded as a “political assassination conducted on Saudi soil”. He has done business with billionaire Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. “He’s a journalist – simple”, he said.
Yasin Aktay, a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the man Khashoggi told his fiancee to call if he did not emerge from the consulate, voiced concerns over the Saudi national’s whereabouts.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Riyadh must provide “honest answers” to the claims that he was murdered.
The editorial noted that the Trump administration has made great efforts to build ties with Mohammed bin Salman, and should now use the relationship as leverage.