SAUDIS FACE FUR­THER PRES­SURE OVER VAN­ISHED JOUR­NAL­IST

Diplo­matic pres­sure to force Saudi Ara­bia to come clean about the fate of miss­ing jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi is es­ca­lat­ing while a Saudi del­e­ga­tion has ar­rived in Ankara to dis­cuss the mat­ter

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

SAUDI au­thor­i­ties have been un­der po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial pres­sure from Euro­pean coun­tries and the U.S. over the lack of an ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, who has not been seen at all since he en­tered the coun­try’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul last week.

EURO­PEAN coun­tries and the U.S. have in­creased the pres­sure on Saudi au­thor­i­ties to re­veal what they know about Ja­mal Khashoggi, who has been miss­ing since Oct. 2, af­ter en­ter­ing the coun­try’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

“The dis­ap­pear­ance of Ja­mal Khashoggi in Is­tan­bul... has raised se­ri­ous ques­tions about his fate. France asks that the facts be clearly es­tab­lished and that all those who can con­trib­ute to the truth fully con­trib­ute to it,” French For­eign min­istry spokes­woman Agnes Von der Muhll said in a state­ment Fri­day.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s spokesman St­ef­fen Seib­ert said: “The Ger­man govern­ment is se­ri­ously con­cerned over Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance with­out a trace, and sweep­ing sus­pi­cions [on the dis­ap­pear­ance] are hor­ri­fy­ing.” Seib­ert said a prompt and ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion should clar­ify the jour­nal­ist’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Mean­while, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he’s talked to of­fi­cials at the high­est level of the Saudi king­dom and is “de­mand­ing ev­ery­thing” to ex­plain how Khashoggi, an ac­tivist who had been crit­i­cal of Saudi lead­ers, van­ished af­ter he walked into the con­sulate in Is­tan­bul to get doc­u­ments he needed to get mar­ried. Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, a Trump sup­porter and top mem­ber of the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said: “We want to have a re­la­tion­ship with Saudi Ara­bia. They’re a strate­gic part­ner. They’re a mor­tal en­emy of the Ira­ni­ans. They’re help­ing us on ter­ror­ism.” But added, “Hav­ing said all that, if this did hap­pen - and it’s in­creas­ingly likely that some­thing bad hap­pened to this man at the hands of the Saudi govern­ment - that shows con­tempt for us. That’s dis­re­spect­ful to us. It puts peo­ple like me in a box who’ve been one of the lead­ing cham­pi­ons of the re­la­tion­ship.”

‘TURKEY HAS PROOF’

While there has been no of­fi­cial state­ment about what Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties be­lieve hap­pened to Khashoggi, some lo­cal of­fi­cials have talked to re­porters off the record. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Wash­ing­ton Post, Turk­ish of­fi­cials told that Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts that they have au­dio and video ev­i­dence point­ing to Saudis killing and dis­mem­ber­ing the jour­nal­ist. The news­pa­per, for which Khashoggi is a colum­nist, cited anony­mous of­fi­cials as say­ing the record­ings show a Saudi se­cu­rity team de­tained the writer when he went to the con­sulate on Oct. 2 to pick up a doc­u­ment for his up­com­ing wed­ding.

Mean­while, Saudi Ara­bia has called the al­le­ga­tion it ab­ducted or harmed Khashoggi “base­less.” How­ever, it has of­fered no ev­i­dence to sup­port its claim he left the con­sulate and van­ished de­spite his fi­ance wait­ing out­side.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan called on Riyadh to prove Khashoggi left, chal­leng­ing Saudi Ara­bia to pro­vide CCTV im­ages to back up its ac­count. Of­fi­cers were look­ing into sound record­ings sent from a smartwatch that Khashoggi was wear­ing when he was in­side the con­sulate to a mo­bile phone which he gave to his Turk­ish fi­ancee wait­ing out­side, Hat­ice Cen­giz.

While Mil­liyet daily re­ported that “ar­gu­ments and shout­ing” could be heard on the record­ings, Sözcü newspa- per said that only “some con­ver­sa­tions” could be heard. The Yeni Şafak daily re­ported that po­lice were also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that Khashoggi’s body was moved via the sewage sys­tem.

JOINT WORK­ING GROUP

On Thurs­day, Turk­ish Pres­i­den­tial Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia would form a “joint work­ing group” to look into Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance. Turk­ish diplo­matic sources told Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the Anadolu Agency (AA) that a Saudi Ara­bian del­e­ga­tion had ar­rived in cap­i­tal Ankara on Fri­day and would be hold­ing talks with Turk­ish of­fi­cials at the week­end. Kalın on Thurs­day said that a joint work­ing group would be set up to solve the mys­tery over the dis­ap­pear­ance.

Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia are also at odds over a planned search by the Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties at the Is­tan­bul con­sulate. Riyadh agreed on Tues­day to let Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties search the Saudi mis­sion as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of Khashoggi. But the search has not yet taken place. The Turk­ish-lan­guage daily news­pa­per, Sabah said this was be­cause Saudi of­fi­cials would only al­low a su­per­fi­cial “vis­ual” probe. The Turk­ish side did not ac­cept the of­fer and Sabah said of­fi­cials wanted to search the build­ing with lu­mi­nol, a chem­i­cal that al­lows for the dis­cov­ery of blood traces.

Jour­nal­ists stand in front of the Saudi Ara­bian con­sulate on Thurs­day in Is­tan­bul. Ja­mal Khashoggi, a Saudi Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­u­tor, van­ished on Oct. 2 af­ter en­ter­ing the con­sulate to ob­tain of­fi­cial doc­u­ments ahead of his mar­riage to his Turk­ish fi­ancee.

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