Miss­ing Saudi writer: What’s known



Vet­eran EMIRATES —

Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi dis­ap­peared over a week ago while on a visit to the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Turkey, spark­ing an in­ter­na­tional up­roar in­volv­ing the king­dom, Turkey and the United States that re­mains un­re­solved.

Khashoggi, a Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­u­tor, had writ­ten col­umns crit­i­cal of Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the king­dom’s stale­mated war in Ye­men and its crack­down on ac­tivists and busi­ness­men.

Turk­ish of­fi­cials say they fear a team of Saudi agents killed and dis­mem­bered Khashoggi, and they have re­leased sur­veil­lance footage of the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors and mys­te­ri­ous move­ments out­side the con­sulate on Oct. 2, the day he en­tered.

The king­dom says the al­le­ga­tions are “base­less” but has of­fered no ev­i­dence Khashoggi ever left the con­sulate.

Here is a look at what we know about the disappearance.

Who is Ja­mal Khashoggi?

Khashoggi is a long­time Saudi jour­nal­ist, for­eign correspondent, editor and colum­nist whose work has been con­tro­ver­sial in the past in the ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive Sunni king­dom.

He went into self-im­posed ex­ile in the United States af­ter the as­cen­sion of Prince Mo­hammed, now next in line to suc­ceed his fa­ther, the 82-year-old King Sal­man.

Khashoggi was known for his in­ter­views and trav­els with Osama bin Laden be­tween 1987 and 1995, in­clud­ing in Afghanistan, where he wrote about the bat­tle against the Soviet oc­cu­pa­tion. In the early 1990s, he tried to per­suade bin Laden to rec­on­cile with the Saudi royal fam­ily and re­turn home from his base in Su­dan, but the al-Qaida leader re­fused.

Khashoggi main­tained ties with Saudi elites and was viewed as a link be­tween the West and the of­ten opaque royal court.

As a con­trib­u­tor to the Post, Khashoggi has writ­ten ex­ten­sively about Saudi Ara­bia, in­clud­ing crit­i­ciz­ing its war in Ye­men, its re­cent diplo­matic spat with Canada and its ar­rest of women’s rights ac­tivists af­ter the lift­ing of a ban on women driv­ing.

What hap­pened to him?

Khashoggi, whose 60th birth­day was Satur­day, went to the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Sept. 28 seek­ing doc­u­ments so he could be mar­ried to his Turk­ish fi­ancee, Hat­ice Cen­giz.

He was told to re­turn to the con­sulate on Oct. 2 to pick up those doc­u­ments, Cen­giz says.

Sur­veil­lance footage later aired on Turk­ish state tele­vi­sion shows Khashoggi walk­ing into the con­sulate at 1:14 p.m. on Oct. 2. A lit­tle less than two hours later, sur­veil­lance footage shows sev­eral ve­hi­cles with diplo­matic li­cense plates move from the con­sulate to the con­sul’s home some 1.2 miles away.

Cen­giz, who spent hours wait­ing for Khashoggi out­side while hold­ing his mo­bile phones, says her fi­ance never walked out of the con­sulate to meet her.

What is Turkey say­ing?

Turk­ish of­fi­cials say they fear Saudi Ara­bia killed Khashoggi. They claim they have au­dio and video record­ings of Khashoggi be­ing in­ter­ro­gated, killed and dis­mem­bered. How­ever, no such record­ings have yet to be re­leased pub­licly.

Turk­ish se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, rather than hold­ing news con­fer­ences, have leaked in­for­ma­tion through pro-gov­ern­ment me­dia. News­pa­pers pub­lished the names and pho­to­graphs of 15 Saudi men in the coun­try’s mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity ser­vices who are said to have formed an “as­sas­si­na­tion squad” sent to tar­get Khashoggi. Turk­ish of­fi­cials said one of those men was an “au­topsy ex­pert.”

A Turk­ish news­pa­per also claimed that Khashoggi’s Ap­ple Watch recorded au­dio of his slay­ing and trans­mit­ted it to his iPhone out­side the con­sulate and to his iCloud ac­count. How­ever, the news­pa­per did not ex­plain how the al­leged record­ing was trans­mit­ted and in­cluded a claim that Khashoggi’s as­sailants used his fin­ger to un­lock it when such watches don’t have fin­ger­print ID scan­ners.

What is Saudi Ara­bia say­ing?

Saudi Ara­bia has of­fered no ex­pla­na­tion for how the writer could have left the con­sulate and dis­ap­peared into Is­tan­bul as his fi­ancee stood out­side wait­ing for him.

Early Satur­day, Saudi In­te­rior Min­is­ter Prince Ab­du­laziz bin Saud said: “What has been cir­cu­lat­ing in terms of sup­posed or­ders to kill him are out­right lies and base­less al­le­ga­tions against the king­dom’s gov­ern­ment.”

Mean­while, Saudi me­dia has tried to blame the cri­sis on Qatar, which the king­dom and three other Arab na­tions now boy­cott as part of a bit­ter po­lit­i­cal dis­pute, without of­fer­ing proof of that coun­try’s in­volve­ment. The Qatar­fund satel­lite net­work Al-Jazeera has ex­ten­sively fo­cused on Khashoggi’s disappearance over the last week.

What is the U.S. say­ing?

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has threat­ened “se­vere pun­ish­ment” if author­i­ties de­ter­mine Saudi Ara­bia was be­hind Khashoggi’s disappearance. How­ever, he also has said he wants to main­tain the arms deals he struck with the king­dom on a trip to Riyadh. Mean­while, Amer­i­can law­mak­ers are threat­en­ing to sanc­tion in­di­vid­ual Saudi of­fi­cials if ev­i­dence links them to the writer’s disappearance.

What hap­pens next?

A Saudi team has ar­rived in Turkey to in­ves­ti­gate Khashoggi’s disappearance. Mean­while, Turkey has said it will search the Saudi Con­sulate for ev­i­dence, but that has yet to hap­pen. Turkey’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said Satur­day that Saudi Ara­bia had not yet co­op­er­ated with Turkey on the search for Khashoggi. That could force Turkey’s hand in leak­ing more in­for­ma­tion about the case to pres­sure the king­dom to co­op­er­ate.


A se­cu­rity guard looks out from the en­trance of Saudi Ara­bia’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Turkey, on Sun­day. Writer Ja­mal Khashoggi van­ished Oct. 2 af­ter he walked into the con­sulate.


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