Pres­sure mounts on Saudi Ara­bia over miss­ing jour­nal­ist

Turkey says it has proof writer was killed in Is­tan­bul con­sulate

The Scotsman - - World News - By AN­GUS HOWARTH

Saudi Ara­bia is fac­ing in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to clar­ify what hap­pened to Ja­mal Khashoggi, a Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist and dis­si­dent writer who dis­ap­peared af­ter vis­it­ing its con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

Turkey’s govern­ment has told US of­fi­cials it has au­dio and video proof that Mr Khashoggi was killed and dis­mem­bered in the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

In a re­port yes­ter­day the news­pa­per cited anony­mous of­fi­cials as say­ing the record­ings show a Saudi se­cu­rity team de­tained the writer when he went to the con­sulate on 2 Oc­to­ber to pick up a doc­u­ment for his up­com­ing wed­ding.

Saudi Ara­bia has de­nied in­volve­ment in the ab­duc­tion or harm of Khashoggi and called the ac­cu­sa­tion “base- less.” How­ever, it has of­fered no ev­i­dence to sup­port its claim he left the con­sulate and van­ished de­spite his fi­ance wait­ing out­side.

Anadolu news Agency said a del­e­ga­tion would hold talks with Turk­ish of­fi­cials over the week­end. It did not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails.

Turk­ish pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia would form a “joint work­ing group” to look into Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

The 59-year-old jour­nal­ist, who was con­sid­ered close to the Saudi royal fam­ily, was a critic of the cur­rent govern­ment and Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the 33-year-old heir ap­par­ent who has in­tro­duced re­forms but shown lit­tle tol­er­ance for crit­i­cism.

Saudi Ara­bia’s am­bas­sador to the UK has said he is “con­cerned” about the prom­i­nent jour­nal­ist. Prince Mo­hammed bin Nawaf al Saud de­clined to com­ment any fur­ther on Mr Khashoggi, whose dis­ap­pear­ance last week has prompted fears he has been mur­dered. Khashoggi had been liv­ing in self-im­posed ex­ile in the United States since last year.

As a con­trib­u­tor to the Wash­ing­ton Post, he has writ­ten ex­ten­sively about Saudi Ara­bia, in­clud­ing crit­i­cism of 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.

Those poli­cies are all seen as ini­tia­tives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of ac­tivists and busimr ness­men. Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties claim Mr Khashoggi was killed by mem­bers of an elite Saudi “as­sas­si­na­tion squad.”

But if Saudi Ara­bia is found to be com­plicit in his dis­ap­pear­ance or death, the warm Us-saudi re­la­tion­ship – and even hopes for Mid­dle East peace – could be up­ended.

For­eign Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt and US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump are among the po­lit­i­cal fig­ures who have de­manded an­swers from Saudi Ara­bia over the case.

Hunt said that if re­ports of Mr Khashoggi’s death proved cor­rect, the UK would re­gard the sit­u­a­tion as “se­ri­ous”, adding: “Friend­ships de­pend on shared val­ues.”

Con­cerns were mount­ing in Congress over Saudi Ara­bia’s poli­cies and the crown prince’s ag­gres­sive steps to si­lence his crit­ics. There are calls on Capi­tol Hill for the US to halt arms sales to the king­dom.

Bri­tish bil­lion­aire Richard Bran­son yes­ter­day sus­pended busi­ness links with Saudi Ara­bia, and Uber chief ex­ec­u­tive Dara Khos­row­shahi said he might not at­tend a ma­jor in­vest­ment con­fer­ence in the coun­try this month amid re­ports that Ja­mal Khashoggi may have been killed at the Saudi con­sulate in Turkey’s cap­i­tal.

Lionel Barber, ed­i­tor of the Fi­nan­cial Times, said the news­pa­per was pulling it’s part­ner­ship with Fu­ture In­vest­ment Ini­tia­tive eco­nomic con­fer­ence in Riyadh while the dis­ap­pear­ance of Ja­mal Khashoggi re­mains un­ex­plained.

PIC­TURE; GETTY IM­AGES

A se­cu­rity of­fi­cer looks out from the Saudi Ara­bian con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, which Ja­mal Khashoggi vis­ited on 2 Oc­to­ber

A diplo­matic ve­hi­cle leaves the Saudi con­sulate yes­ter­day

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