Saudis are said to have lain in wait for Jamal Khashoggi

Elias Hubbard
October 10, 2018

Not only do they not know what happened to him, they say, but they are also anxious for his safety.

That Saudi Arabia would allow foreigners to enter a consulate and search it shows the growing global pressure the kingdom faces over the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia and contributor to the Washington Post.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has met ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud to "seek answers", a day after Downing Street said the United Kingdom was "working urgently" to establish the facts behind the disappearance.

"Violence against journalists worldwide is going up and is a grave threat to freedom of expression". Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the investigation was "continuing intensively".

Searches of diplomatic buildings are incredibly rare - under worldwide law, the grounds of an embassy or consulate are considered to belong to the country that is represented there, not the host nation. That doesn't negate the fact that Khashoggi disappeared at or about the time he was supposed to be inside the consulate, and those circumstances don't leave a lot of room for other suspects.

The Saudi consulate in Istanbul issued a statement Sunday, saying reports that Kashoggi was murdered inside the building were "baseless allegations".

News agency Anadolu later reported that a private plane that had arrived from Saudi Arabia at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport was searched last Tuesday, the day Khashoggi was last seen. There were no details about when the search would take place.

Last week, Crown Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg News that his government was "very keen to know what happened to him", and that Mr Khashoggi had left "after a few minutes or one hour". He opened his plea by violating journalistic ethics - he revealed that Khashoggi had been the source of an anonymous quote in one of his previous columns.

The fiancee of a Saudi journalist who is feared to have been assassinated inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul is pleading with President Donald Trump to help uncover the truth about his fate.

"Perhaps I'm simply trying to hide from the thought that I have lost a great man whose love I had earned".

"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", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"Now, nobody will dare to speak and criticize the reforms", Khashoggi said.

The United Nations human rights office voiced deep concern Tuesday at the "apparent enforced disappearance" and possible murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi a week ago and urged the two countries to investigate.

In September 2017, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported the arrest of dozens of writers, journalists, activists and religious leaders, including prominent Islamist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awda.

"Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there", the Post quoted a person familiar with the information as saying.

Silence will not serve the long-term interests of either the prince or the Saudi kingdom. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the worldwide community.

In March, the State Department approved a $670 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia, part of a promised $110 billion in deals touted by Trump after his first presidential trip to the Saudi capital a year ago.

Turkish police were limited to footage from two street cameras that monitor the street outside the consulate after Saudi officials claimed that security cameras inside the consulate were not working at the time of last week's incident. Investigators have also examined footage that covers the rear of the mission.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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