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Iran Press TV

Turkey's Erdogan says Saudis 'must prove' Khashoggi's exit from consulate

Iran Press TV

Mon Oct 8, 2018 06:54PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Saudi Arabia's consulate must "prove" that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi made exit from the mission, a week after the ill-fated journo was reported as missing a few hours after entering the Arab kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

"The Saudi Consulate officials in Istanbul can't get away with [simply] saying 'he left the building.' The claimants are obligated to prove their claims. If he left the building, then you need to prove it," the Turkish leader said during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban in Budapest on Monday, refereeing to the Saudi version of the event.

In a Bloomberg interview conducted on Wednesday and published on Friday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claimed that Khashoggi "entered" the consulate and "got out after a few minutes or one hour."

"If he left, you have to prove it with footage. Those who ask Turkish authorities where he is, should ask what happened," Erdogan said.

Khashoggi, 59, an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017, when Saudi authorities launched a massive crackdown on the dissent. He was seeking to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday.

His fiancée waited outside the consulate for hours without hearing from him, prompting her to report his disappearance to Istanbul police. Ankara says there is no proof he left the diplomatic mission.

"There are some people that came from Saudi Arabia [that day]. The public prosecutor's office is looking into the issue," Erdogan further said, adding that footage from airports is also being closely studied.

"It is our humanitarian and political duty to closely follow the issue," he also noted.

On Sunday, Yasin Aktay, who advises Erdogan in his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said he believed Washington Post contributor Khashoggi had been killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, adding that Turkish authorities further believed that a group of 15 Saudi nationals were "most certainly involved" in the matter.

In a separate interview with broadcaster CNN Turk on Sunday, Aktay, who is also a deputy chairman of the ruling party, said Ankara had "concrete information" on the disappearance of Khashoggi, and that he had not left the Saudi consulate. "The case would not go unsolved," he added.

Furthermore, a Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press on Monday that "The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul."

However, Riyadh vehemently denies the murder claims, stressing that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive.

Turkey asks to search Saudi consulate

Media reports on Monday also said that Ankara sought permission from Riyadh to search Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Ankara's search request was made after the foreign ministry summoned the Saudi ambassador for a second time Sunday over the Khashoggi's disappearance.

"Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal invited Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the Ministry yesterday. Our expectation of full cooperation during the investigation process [on missing journalist] was conveyed to him," Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency quoted a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry as saying on Monday.

The Washington Post newspaper, which featured articles from Khashoggi on its Global Opinions section, published blank pages on its print and website editions on Friday, demanding urgent information about the journalist whereabouts. Human rights campaigners have also demanded that the Saudi authorities clarify the issue.

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