Prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing Tuesday has been killed inside his Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey, unnamed sources told media outlets Saturday. The prominent critic of the country’s policy in the Yemen war was an editor of a newspaper in Saudi Arabia and adviser to the country's former head of intelligence. He left the country last year for the United States fearing retribution from the kingdom which has recently witnessed widespread crackdown on dissent.
The Washington Post columnist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get documents for his forthcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside for him. The consulate officials said that he left shortly after entering the consulate but his fiancee said she did not see him coming out.
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one of two Turkish officials told Reuters Saturday.
Yasin Aktay, who advises Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in his ruling AK Party, told Reuters that Turkish authorities believed a group of 15 Saudi nationals were “most certainly involved” in the matter, and added that statements by Saudi officials on the absence of camera records were not sincere.
A group of 15 people from Saudi Arabia including some officials arrived in Istanbul in two planes and entered the consulate the same day Khashoggi was there and later left the country. This group is considered to have a connection with the disappearance of Khashoggi.
A senior Turkish police source told Middle East Eye that police believed that Khashoggi was "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces" inside the consulate after visiting the building on Oct. 2.
Saudi Arabia authorities said they have nothing to do with the journalist’s disappearance. Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview Friday that Turkish authority could search their consulate, as they had “nothing to hide”. He also reiterated that Khashoggi had left the building.
A security team including Saudi investigators had arrived in Istanbul Saturday to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi as reported by Reuters.
Khashoggi’s fiance Hatice Cengiz believes that Khashoggi was not killed. She tweeted, “Jamal was not killed and I do not believe he was killed.”
Over the past year, Khashoggi has written regular columns in the Washington Post criticizing Saudi Arabia's policies towards Qatar and Canada, the war in Yemen, and a crackdown on dissent, the media, and activists which has seen dozens of activists, intellectuals and clerics detained.