A Saudi journalist was murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul four days ago when he went there to do some paperwork ahead of his marriage with his Turkish fiancée, sources said.
A Saudi consulate official, however, denounced reports of Jamal Khashoggi’s “murder” citing these sources. The official said Saudi investigators have arrived in Istanbul to participate in the investigations into the disappearance of the journalist.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bi Salman told Bloomberg News that Turkish authorities were welcome to search the consulate building because diplomats have nothing to hide.
A Turkish official told Reuters that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated and his body was subsequently moved out of the consulate.
A Turkish police official told Middle East Eye that Khashoggi was tortured and killed and all acts were videotaped to prove the mission was a success.
The Washington Post cited a Turkish official as saying that a 15-member team came from Saudi Arabia to murder Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, 59, who went on self-imposed exile to the US last year following the elevation of Salman as crown prince, contributed articles to The Washington Post criticising his policies.
The Post blanked out Khashoggi’s column on Friday to express their concern and anger over his disappearance.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has further deteriorated Saudi-Turkish ties. It also raised questions about the assertive Saudi Crown Prince who has jailed advocates of women’s rights and “corrupt” royal family members, officials and business tycoons. While many praise Salman for his ant-corruption campaign, others see it as a cover by the prince to punish his old rivals.
Khashoggi went inside Saudi consulate on Tuesday after leaving his cell phone with his fiancée Hatice Cengiz who waited for him outside. When he failed to emerge from the consulate even after 11 hours, Cengiz grew suspicious and alerted his friends and Turkish officials.
Late on Saturday, Cengiz tweeted she cannot believe Khashoggi has been killed.
Istanbul’s public prosecutor’s office began a probe into his disappearance on Tuesday, immediately after he went missing.
Turkish officers, who checked video footage of two CCTV cameras installed outside the Saudi consulate, could not see the journalist leaving the embassy on foot.