Washington Post writer who staunchly criticized Saudi government 'cut to pieces' inside consulate in Turkey, police claim
Jamal Khashoggi reportedly entered the Saudi Arabian consulate to obtain official documents for his upcoming wedding and "never came back out again."
A 59-year-old journalist, staunchly critical of Saudi Arabia's regime, disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. The latest reports stated that the Saudi national was likely "tortured, murdered and cut to pieces," according to Turkish police claims.
Jamal Khashoggi reportedly entered the Saudi Arabian consulate to obtain official documents for his upcoming wedding and "never came back out again," according to reports. Turkish police believe the journalist, who also used to write articles for The Washington Post, was murdered inside the consulate building. The Saudi government, however, has denied the allegations and has claimed instead that Khashoggi disappeared after he left the consulate on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Daily Mail.
A police source, while talking to Middle East Eye, said Khashoggi was brutally tortured before he was murdered. The journalist was known to be a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies.
The source told the news outlet: "Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country." Turkish police officials had earlier said that nearly 15 Saudis, including officials, arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday on two flights and were present at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.
"Based on their initial findings, the police believe that the journalist was killed by a team especially sent to Istanbul and who left the same day," a government source told AFP on Saturday.
The Turkish government, on Saturday, announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched an official investigation into the journalist's disappearance and the team is closely monitoring the Saudi Consulate and Istanbul's airports. Erdogan added that he is hopeful Khashoggi is still alive, according to reports. "God willing we will not be faced with the situation we do not desire," Erdogan said while calling Khashoggi a "journalist and a friend."
Meanwhile, the state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted an unnamed official at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as denying the claims made by the Turkish police: "The official strongly denounced these baseless allegations," the agency wrote, adding that a team of investigators from Saudi Arabia were working with the local authorities in Turkey to probe the case.
Khashoggi's fiancée, 36-year-old Hatice Cengiz, took to Twitter shortly after the news and said that she was "waiting for an official confirmation from the Turkish government to believe it." Cengiz is a Turkish citizen.
The director of the Washington Post's editorial page, Fred Hiatt, also released a statement saying that if the reports of his murder are true "it is a monstrous and unfathomable act."
"Jamal was - or, as we hope, is - a committed, courageous journalist. He writes out of a sense of love for his country and deep faith in human dignity and freedom," Hiatt said in the statement on the news publication's website.