Turks raise heat over Saudi disappearance
Calls are growing for Saudi Arabia to explain the disappearance of a self-exiled journalist after Turkey accused it of murdering him in its Istanbul consulate while his fiancée waited outside.
The Turkish claims will further destabilise relations between the two rivals for leadership of the Sunni Muslim world who have fallen out over Ankara’s response to the botched 2016 Turkish coup, Qatar and Syria.
Unnamed Turkish sources said a 15-man squad flew into Istanbul last Tuesday for the killing and the body of Saudi Arabia’s best-known journalist, Jamal Khashoggi (pictured), had been dismembered.
The 59-year-old reported on the Afghan war in the 1980s and knew Osama bin Laden. He became a government adviser and ran a pro-Saudi television channel but was critical of King Salman, who came to the throne in 2015, and 33-year-old Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
In November 2017, he warned against the “one-man rule” of the crown prince.
“I’m worried for my children,” Khashoggi wrote. “One-man rule, as I said before, is bad. It always goes wrong, in any country.”
For the last year, he has been living in exile, writing for the Washington Post.
On Tuesday Khashoggi attended a pre-planned appointment at the consulate in Istanbul to collect papers for his divorce from his Saudi wife, while his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, waited outside.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, said he hoped Khashoggi might still be alive. “God willing we will not be faced with a situation we do not want,” he said. “I still am hopeful.”
Turkish sources said the Saudi team had arrived by two private planes on Tuesday morning and left in the afternoon.
The journalist is not the first prominent Saudi to disappear.
Sultan bin Turki, a Saudi prince living in Geneva, heavily criticised the national leadership after he left in 2002.
He said he had breakfast with Abdulaziz bin Fahd, a son of then-ruler King Fahd, in 2003 and was overpowered by masked men. After seven years of detention in Saudi Arabia, he flew to Boston for a medical procedure.
In 2016, he agreed to allow Saudi Arabia to fly him from Paris to Cairo to visit his father. He was assured of his safety and allowed to bring his medical team and western bodyguards.
But the plane flew him to Riyadh and bin Fahd has not been allowed to leave the country since.
There are several more examples.
Jamal Khashoggi. Picture credit: YouTube