The Turkish government has launched an investigation into the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist who reportedly was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, according to Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu.
Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist and critic of the Saudi leadership, has been missing since he entered the Saudi Consulate in Turkey’s largest city on Tuesday, his fiancée and two other sources familiar with the event said.
“His whereabouts and who is responsible will be uncovered,” Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party, said Saturday at a party meeting in Ankara, according to Anadolu.
Khashoggi’s disappearance comes amid a wave of arrests of Saudi critics of the kingdom’s leadership, steered by young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The crackdowns have targeted clerics, journalists, academics and activists, some of whom were detained outside Saudi Arabia.
Turkish officials have said this week they believed Khashoggi remained inside the Saudi Consulate, but Saudi officials have said the journalist left the premises Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the crown prince told Bloomberg that he was willing to allow Turkey to search the consulate.
“The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do,” bin Salman told Bloomberg during an interview in Riyadh. “We have nothing to hide.”
Khashoggi went to the consulate Tuesday afternoon to conduct paperwork that would allow him to be married, according to his fiancée, who asked not to be named.
She said she waited outside but did not see him leave.
Turkish police have reportedly examined surveillance footage from the area and said there is no sign of Khashoggi leaving the consulate, Turan Kislakci, the head of the Turkish Arab Media Association and a friend of Khashoggi’s, told CNN.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies were targeted in some of Khashoggi’s work.
Khashoggi, known in part for his interview with terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, was a Saudi royal court insider before he left Saudi Arabia in 2017 for Washington. He began to contribute opinion pieces to The Washington Post that were critical of bin Salman’s policies, including his consolidation of power. He was named a contributing writer at the Post in January.
Khashoggi said the Saudi government had ordered him to stop using Twitter after he wrote a tweet cautioning against the leadership’s enthusiasm about Donald Trump, then the US President-elect.
“So I spent six months silent, reflecting on the state of my country and the stark choices before me. It was painful for me several years ago when several friends were arrested. I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom. I worried about my family,” he wrote in a September 2017 Washington Post opinion piece titled “Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable.”
“I have made a different choice now. I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison.”