Jamal Khashoggi: Turkey 'to search Saudi consulate' in Istanbul

Daniel Fowler
October 15, 2018

Journalists report from outside the Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018.

When will the search take place?

President Trump said on Monday that he spoke to Saudi King Mohammed bin Salman who denied any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts and said they are working closely with Turkey to find an answer.

The Saudi-US diplomatic clash over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is stirring memories of the most traumatic event in the history of oil.

Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake, two Republican members of the foreign relations committee, said Congress was prepared to move quickly and firmly if Trump failed to adequately respond to the October 2 disappearance of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who had written columns critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It is not the first time that King Salman has sought to ease tensions surrounding the 33-year-old Prince Mohammed, who has been cultivated by the USA but whose reformist credentials are being quickly shredded by the mystery surrounding Khashoggi's fate. While Turkey and the kingdom differ on political issues, Saudi investments are a crucial lifeline for Ankara amid trouble with its national currency, the Turkish lira. Virgin Atlantic, which operates flights between Dubai and London but will withdraw the service from March 31, 2019, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement on October 12 that he is pulling out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia because of growing outrage over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist in Turkey.

"The king has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the information from the joint team in Istanbul", an official quoted by Reuters news agency said.

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Oil rose in early trading, with Brent crude, the global benchmark, rising as much 2 per cent to US$81.92 a barrel.

The official said evidence was being shared with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Saudi King Salman spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone on Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry said, telling Erdogan: "No-one will get (to) undermine the strength of this relationship".

Uber's absence carries a special sting, given both the size of the Saudi investment and its significance for the kingdom's economic reform plans.

Prince Mohammed has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment. "It felt very insensitive and it's something that we shouldn't really be getting involved with, so we thought we're going to stay away from that".

The meeting is on, even though several officials and media companies have pulled out of the conference due to the Khashoggi's disappearance.

Claims that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi recorded audio of his own torture and murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on his Apple Watch are being questioned by cyber security experts.

Khashoggi has written extensively for the Post about Saudi Arabia, criticising its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

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