ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Saudi Arabia to release footage of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and President Donald Trump demanded answers over his fate, as the kingdom faced growing pressure Thursday to provide a convincing explanation for his disappearance, reports AFP.
The Washington Post, the daily to which Khashoggi was a contributor, added to the mystery by reporting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered an operation to “lure” the critical journalist back home.Khashoggi has not been seen since October 2 when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain official documents for his upcoming marriage. Turkish officials quoted in media have said he was killed but Riyadh denies that.
The mystery has captivated the world but also threatens to harm brittle Turkish-Saudi relations and hurt efforts by the crown prince to improve the image of his country with a reform drive. Erdogan challenged Saudi Arabia to provide CCTV images to back up its version that Khashoggi had left the consulate safely, indicating he did not find the current Saudi explanations sufficient.
“Is it possible there were no camera systems in a consulate, in an embassy? Is it possible that there was no Saudi camera system where this incident took place?” Erdogan told Turkish reporters in comments published in newspapers.
“If a bird flew, or a fly or a mosquito appeared, the systems would capture this; they (Saudi Arabia) have the most cutting-edge systems,” he was quoted as saying.
The consulate said CCTV cameras were not working that day and dismissed the murder claims as “baseless”. Meanwhile, Britain’s foreign secretary on Thursday warned that Saudi Arabia will have to face “serious consequences” if the suspicions of Turkish officials that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul turn out to be true.
“People who have long thought of themselves as Saudi’s friends are saying this is a very, very serious matter.“If these allegations are true, there will be serious consequences because our friendships and our partnerships are based on shared values,” Jeremy Hunt told AFP.
“We are extremely worried,” he said. Hunt said he had spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and had told him “how very, very concerned the United Kingdom is”.
Britain is a close ally and trade partner of Saudi Arabia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Saudi Arabia to release footage of Khashoggi and President Donald Trump has demanded answers over his fate, as the kingdom faces growing pressure to provide a convincing explanation for his disappearance.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler ordered an operation targeting journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for more than a week, The Washington Post reported Wednesday citing US intelligence intercepts. Khashoggi—a US resident and one of the more outspoken critics of the regime of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and Turkish officials suspect he was murdered.
The Post, a newspaper to which Khashoggi contributed, cited unnamed US officials as saying that Saudi officials had been heard discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi from the US state of Virginia, where he resided, and detain him.
The paper quoted several of Khashoggi’s friends as saying that senior Saudi officials had approached him offering protection, or even a high-level government job, if he returned home—but that Khashoggi was skeptical of the offers.
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino earlier insisted that the United States had no forewarning of any concrete threat to Khashoggi. “Although I can’t go into intelligence matters, I can definitively say that we had no knowledge in advance of Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance,” Palladino told reporters.