Turkey summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador over writer Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance
A security guard stands behind barriers on a blocked road, leading to the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP) October 4 at 6:43 PM
ISTANBUL â" The Turkish foreign ministry summoned Saudi Arabiaâs ambassador to discuss the whereabouts of veteran journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkeyâs state media reported, after he disappeared while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday.
Ambassador Walid bin Abdul Karim El Khereiji was called to the ministry Wednesday for questions about Khashoggiâs location, the private broadcaster NTV reported from Ankara, the Turkish capital. The ambassador, who met with Turkeyâs deputy foreign minist er, denied having knowledge of Khashoggiâs whereabouts, Thursdayâs news report said.
According to NTV, Khereiji was told that âthe matter should be clarified as soon as possible.â
Turkeyâs summoning of the ambassador came as the New York-based Human Rights Watch called on the Turkish authorities to intensify their investigation into Khashoggiâs fate. The journalist, who writes for The Washington Postâs Global Opinions section and has criticized the Saudi leadership over the last year, has not been heard from since he entered the Saudi consulate on Tuesday afternoon to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding, according to his fiancÃ©e and friends.
Turkish officials said on Wednesday they believed he was still inside the consulate. That contradicted assertions by the Saudi government, which said that Khashoggi had left the mission soon after entering.
âIf Saudi authorities surreptitiously detained Khashoggi it would be yet another esca lation of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salmanâs reign of repression against peaceful dissidents and critics,â Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement released on Thursday, referring to Saudi Arabiaâs young and influential heir to the throne.
âThe burden of proof is on Saudi Arabia to produce evidence for its claim that Khashoggi left the consulate alone, and that Saudi agents have not detained him,â she said.
Khashoggi entered the consulate around 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to his fiancÃ©e, who said she accompanied him but waited outside. The fiancÃ©e, who asked that her name be withheld, called police when Khashoggi did not emerge at 5 p.m., after the consulate had officially closed.
[Opinion: Post contributor and prominent Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi feared missing in Turkey]
Before he vanished, Khashoggi was among the Arab worldâs best-known journalists and commentators. As the editor of Engl ish and Arabic-language Saudi news outlets, he was a critical source for outsiders trying to understand the often-inscrutable kingdom â" even as Khashoggi himself fell in and out of favor with Saudi Arabiaâs ruling circles.
Khashoggi had lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year, when he left Saudi Arabia as its leadership showed signs it was becoming increasingly intolerant of dissent, and shortly before the authorities there began conducting mass arrests of critics and rivals.
Over the past year, Khashoggi has written extensively about the growing influence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has been critical of some of Mohammedâs policies, including arrests of womenâs rights activists.
âSaudi authorities must immediately verify the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi,â the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement this week. âGiven the Saudi authoritiesâ pattern of quietly detaining critical journalists, Kha shoggiâs failure to emerge from the Saudi consulate on the day he entered is a cause for alarm.â
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