Pres­sure on Saudi over miss­ing jour­nal­ist

Shanghai Daily - - TOP NEWS - (AFP)

TURK­ISH Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan urged Saudi Ara­bia to re­lease footage of Ja­mal Khashoggi and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­manded an­swers over his fate, as the king­dom faced grow­ing pres­sure yes­ter­day to pro­vide a con­vinc­ing ex­pla­na­tion for the jour­nal­ist’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

The Wash­ing­ton Post, the daily to which Khashoggi was a con­trib­u­tor, added to the mys­tery by re­port­ing Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man had or­dered an op­er­a­tion to “lure” the crit­i­cal jour­nal­ist back home.

Khashoggi has not been seen since Oc­to­ber 2 when he went to the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul to ob­tain of­fi­cial doc­u­ments for his up­com­ing mar­riage. Turk­ish of­fi­cials quoted in me­dia have said he was killed but Riyadh de­nies that.

The mys­tery has cap­ti­vated the world but also threatens to harm brit­tle Turk­ish-Saudi re­la­tions and hurt ef­forts by the crown prince to im­prove the im­age of his coun­try with a re­form drive.

Er­do­gan chal­lenged Saudi Ara­bia to pro­vide CCTV im­ages to back up its ac­count that Khashoggi had left the con­sulate safely, in­di­cat­ing he did not find the cur­rent Saudi ex­pla­na­tions suf­fi­cient.

“Is it pos­si­ble there were no cam­era sys­tems in a con­sulate, in an em­bassy? Is it pos­si­ble that there was no Saudi cam­era sys­tem where this in­ci­dent took place?” Er­do­gan told Turk­ish re­porters in com­ments pub­lished in news­pa­pers.

“If a bird flew, or a fly or a mosquito ap­peared, the sys­tems would cap­ture this; they (Saudi Ara­bia) have the most cut­ting-edge sys­tems,” he was quoted as say­ing.

The con­sulate said CCTV cam­eras were not work­ing that day and dis­missed the mur­der claims as “base­less.”

The case is also threat­en­ing the strong re­la­tion­ship the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has built with Prince Mo­hammed, who wants to turn the oil-rich con­ser­va­tive king­dom into a hub for in­no­va­tion and re­form.

The two sides have worked to­gether on chal­leng­ing Iran de­spite con­cern over the prince’s cam­paign against dis­si­dents, which crit­ics say has re­vealed the true face of his rule.

In a re­ver­sal from Wash­ing­ton’s ini­tial low-key re­sponse, Trump reaf­firmed that he has to “find out what hap­pened.”

“We can’t let it hap­pen. And we’re be­ing very tough and we have in­ves­ti­ga­tors over there and we’re work­ing with Turkey and frankly we’re work­ing with Saudi Ara­bia,” Trump said.

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