Turkey to search Saudi consulate for missing journalist

Ankara: Turkey said on Tuesday that it will conduct a search of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in line with an ongoing probe on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the search will be implemented in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and under the official permission of the Saudi diplomatic mission chief, the BBC reported.

The ministry said that the Saudi authorities were “open for cooperation” and a requested search of the building could go ahead as part of the investigation.

Khashoggi, 59, journalist and columnist of the Washington Post, was last seen entering the consulate last week. Turkish officials claim that Khashoggi was murdered on the premises and his body was then removed.

However, Saudi Arabia denied the murder allegation as “baseless”. It said the journalist left the consulate shortly after arriving, while according to Turkey, he was not seen leaving the building.

Khashoggi visited the consulate to get documents needed for his upcoming marriage. A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he was living in self-imposed exile in the US and writing opinion pieces for the Post before his disappearance.

US President Donald Trump said he was concerned about Khashoggi, while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Saudi Arabia to “support a thorough investigation” of his disappearance and “to be transparent about the results”.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s brother and the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, said that reports about Khashoggi’s disappearance or death were “completely false and baseless”.

Turkish Foreign Ministry had earlier summoned Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ankara and demanded permission to search the consulate building in Istanbul.