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Turkey summons Saudi ambassador over dissident journalist’s disappearance

Ozan Kose, AFP | A Saudi Arabian family wait at barriers in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 4, 2018.

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Ankara over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish official revealed Thursday.


Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and commentator, went missing Tuesday after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document.

Turkish and Saudi authorities have offered conflicting accounts about his whereabouts. While Saudi officials say Khashoggi left the premises on Tuesday, Turkish officials say security camera footage revealed he had not left the consulate.

A longtime journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and columnist, Khashoggi was a Saudi political insider until he began criticising the crackdown on dissent following the seizure of the levers of power by the young Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known by his initials “MBS’. Last year, he went into self-imposed exile in the US fearing arrest for the publication of progressive and critical columns on the Saudi regime.

Saudi dissident's disappearance is 'shocking, but not surprising', says France 24's Leela Jacinto

“It has become one-man rule,” Khashoggi told FRANCE 24 in an interview last year. “[MBS] has control of everything. He is creating an environment of intimidation and fear. Saudis are being silenced. That is not a recipe for reform in Saudi Arabia – and he needs to do something about that.”

Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, who was waiting for him outside the consulate, reported him missing Tuesday evening after he failed to emerge after office hours.

After an initial period of silence Saudi Arabia said the consulate was working with Turkish authorities “to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building”.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin however told reporters on Wednesday the journalist was being held at the consulate, adding that Ankara was in touch with Saudi officials.

Turkey has ‘very little leverage’ over Saudi Arabia

The incident is likely to strain relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, explained FRANCE 24’s Leela Jacinto, noting that official statements by Turkish officials underscored Ankara’s displeasure over the latest development.

“The problem though is that Saudi-Turkish relations are already strained and Ankara has very little leverage over Riyadh. Remember Turkey backed Qatar last year in the intra-Gulf spat between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Turkey also helped Qatar circumvent the economic embargo imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia,” explained Jacinto.

Over the past year, Saudi Arabia has detained high profile figures, including Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri who was summoned to Riyadh and held incommunicado until French President Emmanuel Macron intervened to diffuse the crisis.


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