World News

US steps up pressure on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi disappearance

US steps up pressure on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi disappearance

An adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he believed prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for six days, was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

Back in March, Khashoggi appeared on Al Jazeera's "UpFront" and said there wasn't any room for debate in Saudi Arabia with journalists jailed for questioning its policies.

That means Turkish police can not enter and search the consulate unless they get permission from the Saudi authorities, which they have now reportedly received.

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". Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the Saudis a little harder to sort it out themselves, calling for "a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation". "Jamal has many friends in the Kingdom, including myself, and despite our differences, and his choice to go into his so called 'self-exile, ' we still maintained regular contact when he was in Washington".

Saudi Arabia has always been a pillar of USA policy in the Middle East, and while the relationship was rocky during President Obama's tenure, Trump has embraced Riyadh.

US President Donald Trump has expressed concern about the writer's disappearance. According to some media reports, Khashoggi, 59, has been killed inside the Saudi consulate.

Erdogan said he would wait for the outcome of the current investigation before taking a decision. He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who has dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Trump has instead focused on USA and Saudi shared interests in ratcheting up pressure on Iran.

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

The journalist said he had been banned from writing in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, owned by Saudi prince Khaled bin Sultan al-Saud, over his defence of the Muslim Brotherhood which Riyadh has blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.

But since the emergence of Prince Mohammed, 33, as the center of power in the kingdom a year ago, Khashoggi has been openly critical of the monarchy.

His disappearance is likely to further deepen divisions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar past year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

Erdogan said he was personally following the issue, without saying what he believed had happened to Khashoggi.

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.

In a statement, Post CEO and Publisher Fred Ryan said the paper had "repeatedly asked the Saudi and Turkish governments for information about Jamal and his whereabouts but have not received satisfactory answers. We are fully aligned with the United States on this, with the U.S. position on this", she said.

The Khashoggi case puts the Trump administration unexpectedly on the side of Turkey, where two top government officials have been slapped with U.S. sanctions over the detention of an American pastor. Among other things, as MBS told Bloomberg, the visit prompted Riyadh to commit to buying more than 60 percent of its weapons in the next decade from Washington.

He then returned to Saudi Arabia and started his career as a journalist in the 1980s as a reporter for regional newspapers covering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. "I said nothing. I didn't want to lose my job or my freedom".


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