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U.S. seeks answers about missing journalist from Saudi ally

11 October 2018

The Daily Sabah published images and security video of the so-called "assassination squad" as they entered the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi-a prominent Saudi journalist and regime critic-was last seen entering in the same day on October 2.

Saudi Arabia remained silent as the images, though not offering definitive proof about Khashoggi's fate, played across television networks in Turkey and around the world. TV channels broadcast videos of what they said were the men arriving at the airport and checking into hotels, as well as footage of vehicle traffic outside the consulate before and after Khashoggi's disappearance, including a black van with blacked out windows that the police find suspicious.

Lawmakers have been making increasingly strong statements regarding the U.S. -Saudi relationship this week after reports that the kingdom sought to silence one of its most outspoken critics. He left Saudi Arabia a year ago saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Riyadh over the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent, and since then wrote columns for the Washington Post.

"Is it possible for there to be no camera systems at the Saudi Arabia consulate, where the event took place?", Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his country was anxious about Khashoggi's disappearance and can not remain silent, in comments quoted by Hurriyet newspaper on Thursday.

It was unclear from this whether Saudi Arabia wanted to then kill him or arrest him, or if USA officials made Khashoggi aware of this, the source said. About two hours after he entered the consulate, video released by state media in Turkey shows several vehicles with diplomatic license plates, leave the consulate and drive some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away to the consul's residence.

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The Post, citing anonymous US officials familiar with the intelligence, said Prince Mohammed ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

The wealthy former government insider wrote columns for The Washington Post, including some critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

US Senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump late Wednesday demanding he take action against Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi last week.

Khashoggi, 59, has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The official described a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate by a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the objective.

The Washington Post, where Khashoggi had been a regular contributor over the past year, also demanded answers.

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Earlier Wednesday, Turkish media published surveillance footage of the men Ankara believes to have been part of the "assassination squad". "We're probably getting closer than you might think but I have to find out what happened". Although it is unclear where their information is coming from, the Turks say after Khashoggi was murdered, his body was dismembered by Saudi officials in the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Trump told reporters he had talked with officials in Saudi Arabia "at the highest level" about Khashoggi's disappearance, but offered no indication on his whereabouts.

Turkish, US and British intelligence sources have told press, privately, that Khashoggi was likely murdered at the consulate at the request of the Saudi leadership. In both calls, they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process.

Mohammed is a close ally of the U.S. and has developed a relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a White House adviser.

But State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters they had no such tip.

The president added that he would invite Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, to the White House to meet him, after she called for Trump to get involved in the matter.

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U.S. seeks answers about missing journalist from Saudi ally