The dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2. This has raised fears that he was murdered at the consulate.
Two Turkish sources have reported that the 59-year-old Khashoggi was murdered. While no direct proof has been offered, such a serious allegation would not be made unless there was some basis to it.
Khashoggi had been living in exile for two years now. He has criticized the kingdom of being ruled by one man. He wrote a regular column for the Washington Post.
The Post ran a blank column on Friday October 5 to reflect its concern over his fate and lack of information from the Saudi authorities.
The Washington Post said it would be a "monstrous and unfathomable act" if he had been killed.
Khashoggi’s visit to the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul was to get some documents signed.
These related to confirming that he had divorced his ex-wife, so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. The latter accompanied him to the consulate but stayed outside.
Khashoggi never came out of the consulate even though Ms. Cengiz said she waited outside for 11 hours.
She further said Khashoggi was asked to surrender his mobile phone at the consulate, which is standard practice in some diplomatic missions.
Aware that there was a risk of foul play, Khashoggi told his fiancée to call an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he did not return.
A Turkish official told the BBC that initial investigations indicated he was murdered in the consulate.
Speaking to CNN Turk, the Turkish TV station, an official of Turkey’s ruling AK Party said that there was concrete evidence of foul play.
Officials said Khashoggi was killed on the premises and his body was then removed.
Investigators said a 15-person Saudi team arrived at the consulate on October 2, returning to Riyadh the same day.
What was the purpose or mission of the Saudi team arriving in Istanbul and leaving the same day?
The head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, Turan Kislakci, told the New York Times that Turkish police officers providing security for the consulate had checked their security cameras and did not see the journalist leave on foot.
Kislakci added that diplomatic cars had been seen moving in and out of the consulate. What was the reason for such activity when normally there is little movement in and out of the consulate?
Not surprisingly, Saudi Arabia has denied the accusations, saying it is “working to search for him.”
What else would they say: they murdered the dissident journalist whom they saw as causing embarrassment to the regime?
On October 3, Bloomberg News quoted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying that Turkish authorities were welcome to search the building because “we have nothing to hide.”
The prince said the Saudis were “very keen to know what happened to him”, saying his understanding was that Khashoggi left “after a few minutes or one hour”.
If so, why didn’t the CCTV footage show him leaving the consulate building?
The speculation is that the 15-member Saudi team was involved in removing the body from the consulate.
The Turkish authorities must investigate what aircraft the 15-member Saudi team use and what was loaded onto it. There would be CCTV footage available of this.
When asked if Khashoggi faced charges in Saudi Arabia, the crown prince said his country would need to know where he was first.
The Saudi rulers are becoming brazen in their conduct. They have not only arrested thousands of people and thrown them in jail on flimsy charges, they also do not hesitate in kidnapping critics residing abroad.
Several members of the royal family that have disagreed with the regime’s policy have also been kidnapped and returned to the kingdom where they have simply disappeared.