Prominent Saudi journalist disappears during visit to consulate in Turkey

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared on Tuesday 2.Photo/AP

A prominent Saudi journalist and harsh critic of his country’s ambitious young Crown Prince entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday to sort out some paperwork, then he disappeared.

Turkish authorities believe that Khashoggi who disappeared four days ago after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, has been killed.

“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” a Turkish official told Reuters news agency on Saturday.

Now family, friends, and Turkish authorities are searching for 59-year-old Jamal Khashoggi, who contributes regularly to The Washington Post and appears frequently on television.

The disappearance of Mr Khashoggi may signal a new level of brazenness by Saudi security forces seeking to silence opponents and critics at home and abroad.

“It’s a clear message,” said Omar Abdulaziz, an outspoken Saudi dissident in Canada. “‘We’re going to get you wherever you are. And if we can’t get you, we’re going to harm your family.”

Rights groups had called on Saudi Arabia to verify Khashoggi’s whereabouts, with Human Rights Watch calling on Turkey to deepen its investigation into the case, saying if Saudi Arabia had detained Khashoggi without acknowledging it, his detention would constitute an enforced disappearance.

Khashoggi’s suspected killing may further strain relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who are on opposite sides of the multination blockade of Qatar and other regional crises.

Khashoggi, who had been living in self-imposed exile in the US for over a year, was one of the best-known critics of the Saudi government’s reform programme under the stewardship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In his writings for the Washington Post, the Saudi commentator had slammed Saudi policies towards Qatar and Canada, the war in Yemen , and a crackdown on dissent and the media in the kingdom.