TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called on Riyadh to prove its claim that Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing since last week, left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The disappearance of Khashoggi, previously a prominent newspaper editor in Saudi Arabia and an adviser to its former head of intelligence, has sparked global concern, particularly after Turkish sources said over the weekend that authorities believed he was killed inside the consulate.
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia last year, saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy in the kingdom’s war against Yemen and its crackdown on dissent. He entered the consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. Saudi officials have said that he left shortly afterwards but his fiancée, who was waiting outside, said he never appeared.
“We have to get an outcome from this investigation as soon as possible. The consulate officials cannot save themselves by simply saying ‘he has left’,” Erdogan told a news conference in Budapest, where he is on an official visit, Reuters reported.
Erdogan, who said he was personally following the case, added that Turkey had no documents or evidence regarding the case.
A Saudi source at the consulate has denied that Khashoggi had been killed at the mission and said that the accusations were baseless. The consulate has also denied that Khashoggi was abducted.
Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince’s brother, echoed these comments in a statement, adding that his country has sent a security team, with Turkey’s approval, to assist in the investigation.
Khashoggi is a familiar face on political talk shows on Arab satellite television networks and used to advise Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States and Britain.
His disappearance is likely to further deepen divisions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar last year in a show of support after its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.
Turkey has asked for permission to search Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, broadcaster NTV said on Monday.
A Turkish official said Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Ankara had been summoned to the foreign ministry for a second time on Sunday. “It has been conveyed to him that we expect full coordination in the investigation process,” the official said.
Erdogan told reporters on Sunday that authorities were examining camera footage and airport records as part of their investigation.