After days of speculations and search, Turkey has now said that well-known Saudi Arabian journalist-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi has been murdered. The journalist was said to have gone missing during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday, October 2.
Speaking to the Washington Post on Saturday, October 6, Turkish officials said that a 15-member team was sent "from Saudi Arabia. It was a pre-planned murder." The Turkish officials spoke to the daily on the condition of anonymity and provided no evidence of the murder or how they came to this conclusion.
Turkey's presidential office spokesman Ibrahim too insisted that Khashoggi was at the Saudi consulate when he went missing. "This person who is a Saudi citizen is still at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul," the spokesman had said.
Speaking of the disappearance, Khashoggi's friends and fiancée had said that the journalist visited the Saudi consulate to as he was set to get married soon and needed to finish some paperwork that would permit him to tie the knot.
His fiancée too believes that Khashoggi didn't leave the consulate and told CNN that she was waiting for him outside. He went in at 1.30 pm and never returned, she said.
However, Saudi Arabia has denied these reports and said that Khashoggi had left the consulate minutes after arriving and that his whereabouts weren't known to anyone. As proof, the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul even allowed a few Reuters reporters to tour the premises of the consulate.
"I would like to confirm that ... Jamal is not at the consulate nor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the consulate and the embassy are working to search for him," Reuters quoted the consul-general, Mohammed al-Otaibi, as saying.
Saudi Arabia also said that it was investigating the disappearance and keeping an eye on the media reports on the matter. "The Consulate General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul stated that it was following-up on the media reports of the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi after he left the building of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul," SPA reported.
Khashoggi's is known to be a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his disappearance comes at a time when Saudi authorities have been accused of arresting critics of the kingdom's leadership. Those arrested include journalists, clerics, activists and academics to name a few, a move that has often been slammed by Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, once known to have been close to the knigdom's leadership, himself left Saudi Arabia in 2017, and later wrote a piece in the Washington Post labelleing the conditions back home "unbearable."