Last Seen Entering The Saudi Consulate On Oct 2; The Curious Case Of Missing Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
A veteran Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, who has been critical of the Saudi government has reportedly gone missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, October 2.
Reportedly, Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the consulate on the afternoon of October 2. His fiance, who accompanied him, waited outside the building until its closure. Khashoggi was a former Saudi government advisor who reportedly went into a self-imposed exile in the United States in 2017 to avoid a possible arrest. While at the Post, the journalist has written extensively on his home country, including criticising its war on Yemen and its arrest of women’s rights activists. This incident, which involves the Saudi kingdom, Turkey and the United States has sparked an international uproar.
What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
Jamal reportedly went to the Saudi Consulate located in one of Istanbul’s upscale neighbourhood on September 28 to get documents to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz. However, he was asked to return on October 2 to pick up the documents.
According to media reports, surveillance footage aired on Turkish state television showed the journalist walking inside the building at around 1:14 pm on October 2. Almost two hours later, the footage shows vehicles with diplomatic licence plate numbers move from the consulate to the consul’s house. Meanwhile, his fiancee, Cengiz can be seen waiting outside the building and pacing around outside till the evening.
What does Turkey have to say?
While details behind his disappearance are hazy, there has been a widescale speculation that the journalist might have been killed inside the consulate. The Turkish government is reportedly accusing Saudi Arabia of killing him as they claim that there is no evidence of Khashoggi ever leaving the building. Reportedly, the Turkish officials claim to be in possession of audio and video recordings of the journalist being interrogated, killed and then dismembered inside the consulate, however, no such recordings have been made public yet.
Meanwhile, Turkish pro-government newspaper Sabah, last week had released the names and photographs of 15 Saudi nationals who are suspected of being sent to Turkey specifically to target and kill Jamal. According to Sabah’s report, the men which included some Saudi officials arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on the same day of Khashoggi’s disappearance. Turkish media has also released footage of the men arriving in private jets and checking into hotels near the consulate. One of those who has been named in the list has been identified as a Saudi forensic expert, reported NDTV.
Turkish newspaper also claimed that his Apple Watch recorded the happenings inside the building which was then uploaded to his iPhone which was outside and to his iCloud account. However, the article failed to explain as to how such transmission can be possible, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
What is the USA saying?
The White House’s comments in this regard so far have been limited. However, President Donald Trump has reportedly talked about “severe punishment” if the Saudi government is found to be linked with his disappearance. Moreover, the incident has given rise to a myriad of reactions among US Senators, ranging from boycotting an upcoming economic summit to ending support for Saudi military operations.
Other countries in Europe like Britain, Germany and France have issued a joint statement, reported CNN. The statement read, “Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP [Federica] Mogherini and UNSG [Antonio] Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and — if relevant — to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account.”
What does the Saudi government have to say?
The Saudi government has denied any allegations of the Kingdom’s involvement in the disappearance of the journalist. The government claims that he left the building, however, there is no evidence to support the claim.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz said that the reports are “lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom,” reported CNN. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also warned retaliation for sanctions against the Kingdom, as a response to Trump’s comments.
Even as it continues to vehemently deny the country’s involvement in the disappearance, it has reportedly agreed to let the Turkish authorities search the consulate as a part of the ongoing investigation. Both the countries have even agreed to form a joint investigative team to look into the disappearance. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud even thanked Turkish President Erdogan for accepting the former’s proposal to form a joint action group. Local media reported that the Turkish police forces have been looking into the two private aircrafts that flew in the 15 persons of interest on October 2.
As every passing day unfolds the mystery behind the veteran journalist’s disappearance, the Saudi kingdom is being increasingly isolated by world powers.