Turkey summons Saudi ambassador over missing journalist Khashoggi

Turkey has summoned the Saudi ambassador to request the kingdom's "full co-operation" in an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who Turkish officials say was killed while visiting the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.

Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since visiting Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident shown during a news conference in Manama, Bahrain, on Feb. 1, 2015, has been missing since he entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)

Turkey has summoned the Saudi ambassador to request the kingdom's "full co-operation" in an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who Turkish officials say was killed while visiting the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul. 

Khashoggi, 59, went missing last Tuesday while visiting the consulate for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Saudis need to provide evidence to support their claim that he left the consulate.

"Consulate officials can't save themselves by saying, 'He left here.' And relevant authorities are obligated to provide proof of this claim," Erdogan said during a visit to Hungary. "If he left, you must prove this, you will prove this, even if it's with visuals. Those who ask Turkish authorities, 'Where is he?' should first be asking, 'How did this happen?"'

A Turkish official said the Saudi ambassador met with Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal on Sunday at the ministry. The Turkish private NTV television said Ankara requested permission for Turkish investigators to search the consulate building in Istanbul, but a Foreign Ministry official would not confirm the report.

Saudis deny involvement

Turkish officials say the Washington Post contributor was killed at the consulate and that his body was later removed from the building, without providing evidence. Erdogan has said he would await the results of an investigation.

Saudi officials have said denied the allegations, saying they are baseless. The consulate insists Khashoggi left its premises, contradicting Turkish officials.

The Saudi writer spent last year in the U.S. in self-imposed exile, after he fled the kingdom amid a crackdown on intellectuals and activists who criticized the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Watch Khashoggi speak to CBC's The National earlier this year about the issue of free speech and criticism of the Saudi regime:

Self-exiled Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi said earlier this year that the Saudi government has been moving toward nationalist radicalism. 1:14

Khashoggi's disappearance could put pressure on the Saudi prince, who has promoted an image of himself as a reformer and a reliable Western ally.

"Opposition to the young crown prince in the ruling family will most likely grow," warned Ayham Kamel, the head of Mideast and North Africa research at the Eurasia Group. "There are elements of the Al Saud family that are convinced that the prince is reckless and compromising the security of the country."

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern about Khashoggi's disappearance to reporters at the White House.

"I am concerned about it. I don't like hearing about it," Trump said. "Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it."

Journalists stage protest

Turkey's state-run news agency, quoting police, has said 15 Saudi nationals arrived in Istanbul aboard two planes and were inside the consulate building when Khashoggi went missing.

The private DHA agency said the planes, which it identified as a two Gulfstreams belonging to a Riyadh-based company that hires private jets, landed at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on the day Khashoggi vanished.

Journalists and activists gathered outside the Saudi consulate on Monday demanding information on Khashoggi's fate.

Yemeni Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman, centre, participates at a demonstration for Khashoggi that was organized by the Turkish-Arabic Media Association in front of the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Friday. (EPA-EFE/Sedat Suna)

"We would like to know exactly what happened inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance," said Mohamed Okad, a friend of Khashoggi and founder of Insight into Crisis, a conflict advisory group.

"We demand from the international community to pressure Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman to tell us exactly what happened."

Among the protesters was Tawakkol Karman, the Yemeni journalist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner. She accused Saudi Arabia of "state terrorism" and called on the international community to take action against the kingdom. A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels since March 2015.

With a file from Reuters