Turkey seeks missing journalist in Saudi Consulate
ISTANBUL — Turkey said Tuesday it will search the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as it investigates why journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished there a week ago, an extraordinary probe of a diplomatic post amid Turkish officials’ fears the writer had been killed inside the building.
That Saudi Arabia would allow foreigners to enter a consulate and search it shows the growing international pressure the kingdom faces over the disappearance of Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post.
The Saudis have called allegations of any involvement in his disappearance “baseless,” but had no immediate comment on Turkey’s announcement. It remained unclear when the search would take place.
President Donald Trump and European leaders all have called on Riyadh to explain what happened to the 59-year-old journalist who has criticized the Saudi government. So far, the kingdom has offered no evidence in the past seven days to show that Khashoggi ever left the building, as a new surveillance photo surfaced showed him walking in its main entrance.
“The Saudi Consulate cannot absolve itself of responsibility for this incident by allowing its premises to be searched,” said Gulseren Yoleri of the Human Rights Association. “It has to prove that Jamal wasn’t oppressed at the consulate and that he left safely.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said U.S. officials have raised the matter with their Saudi counterparts.
“We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were “open to cooperation” and would allow the consulate building to be searched. Such a search would be an extraordinary development, as embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations.
Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the international community.
A surveillance image has surfaced, showing Khashoggi entering the consulate Oct. 2. The picture bore a date and time stamp, as well as a Turkish caption saying that Khashoggi was arriving at the consulate. The Post, which first published the photo, said “a person close to the investigation” shared the image with them, without elaborating. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet also published the image.