10 October 2018|30 Muharram 1440|TRT World
Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT World has obtained video footage which shows the Saudi government critic Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate on October 2nd. The video also shows alleged Saudi planes and agents, whom Turkish officials want to investigate in relation to the dissident journalist’s disappearance.
Separately, Turkish newspaper Sabah published photos on Wednesday of what it said was a 15-member “assassination squad” allegedly sent to target Khashoggi.
Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, an allegation rejected by Saudi Arabia, which says he left the premises alive.
Turkey has been given permission to search the diplomatic post, an extraordinary development that shows the increasing international pressure the kingdom faces over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The Sabah report published images of the men apparently taken at passport control. It said they checked into two hotels in Istanbul on October 2, the day Khashoggi went missing, and left later that day.
Khashoggi had written a series of columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia’s assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led a widely publicised drive to reform the Sunni monarchy but has also presided over the arrests of activists and businessmen.
On Wednesday, the Post published a column by Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. She acknowledged the writer first visited the consulate on September 28 “despite being somewhat concerned that he could be in danger.” He later returned October 2 after being promised needed paperwork so the two could be married.
A surveillance video image surfaced Tuesday showing Khashoggi walking into the consulate in Istanbul’s upscale 4th Levent neighbourhood. No evidence of him leaving the consulate has been made public, but Turkish officials also have yet to provide evidence he was kidnapped or killed.
“At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance,” Cengiz wrote. “I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”
“Although this incident could potentially fuel a political crisis between the two nations, let us not lose sight of the human aspect of what happened,” she added.
Khashoggi had sought to become a US citizen after living in self-imposed exile since last year, fearing repercussions for his criticism of the prince, Cengiz wrote.
Trump, who took his first overseas trip as US 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.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Tuesday that Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were “open to cooperation” and would allow the consulate building to be searched. It’s unclear when such a search would take place.
Embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to reassure its Western allies and the international community.