Turkey hunts black van it believes carried body of Saudi journalist

Clay Curtis
October 11, 2018

Turkey's foreign ministry said Tuesday that authorities will search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as part of an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last week. Whatever took place, Corker said, "there was Saudi involvement" and "everything points to them".

A friend of a prominent Saudi journalist who went missing in Istanbul said Sunday that officials told him to "make your funeral preparations" as the Washington Post contributor "was killed" at the Saudi Consulate.

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Turkish investigators believe that Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after he entered and his body was later removed from the premises, a USA official and sources close to the investigation said.

A surveillance video image surfaced Tuesday showing Khashoggi walking into the consulate in Istanbul's upscale 4th Levent neighbourhood. "Consulate officials can not save themselves by simply saying 'he has left, '" Erdogan told a news conference in Budapest, where he is on an official visit. "They have all of them. You have to prove it".

Khashoggi, a progressive journalist who left Saudi Arabia past year, is feared dead by Turkish authorities, who claim he never left the consulate after going in last Tuesday on an administrative errand.

Mr Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the USA and working for the Washington Post before his disappearance, was a frequent critic of the kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he described as a "brash and abrasive young innovator" who was "acting like Putin".

Trump, who took his first overseas trip as USA president to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said Tuesday he had not yet talked to the Saudis about Khashoggi, "but I will be at some point", without elaborating. I don't like hearing about it. But he tempered his comments, saying: "Hopefully that will sort itself out". There are some pretty bad stories going around.

Trump said earlier on Tuesday he plans to speak with the Saudis without elaborating.

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Turkish officials say Mr Khashoggi was killed on the premises and his body was then removed.

Saudi Arabia has always been a pillar of U.S. policy in the Middle East, and while the relationship was rocky during President Obama's tenure, Trump has embraced Riyadh.

Allegations have since swirled over the whereabouts of Khashoggi, who is a well-known critic of the Saudi government and lives in exile.

But in an interview with the public broadcaster news channel TRT Haber, Aktay said: "This is an assault against Turkey's right of sovereignty".

Later on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence had intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi, citing a source familiar with the situation.

"My friends and I living overseas feel helpless".

But Khashoggi's fiancée is reportedly holding out hope, tweeting in Arabic late Saturday and translated by the Middle East Eye, "Jamal was not killed, and I don't believe that he was killed", the fiancée said.

"Jamal has many friends in Saudi Arabia, and I am one of them", he said in a statement, saying the two had kept in touch while he was living overseas "despite differences".

The Turkish ministry of foreign affairs had stated that Saudi Arabia has provided all assistance and cooperation in the case of the missing journalist who has disappeared in Istanbul last week. "The Kingdom is concerned with the safety and well-being of its citizens wherever they are, and that relevant authorities in the Kingdom are diligently following up on this matter to uncover the complete facts", the statement continued.

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