ISTANBUL – Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Turkish authorities search its Istanbul consulate as part of the investigation into the disappearance of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
There have been fierce speculations over what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, who wrote for Arab and Western media, after he disappeared on October 2 following a visit to the consulate to obtain official documents.
While Riyadh claimed he had left the consulate after his visit, Turkish police said Khashoggi did not emerge from the building, asking the Saudi officials to let them search the building.
Government sources said police believe the journalist was killed inside the consulate – claims which Riyadh dismissed as baseless.
‘Saudi authorities said they were open to cooperation and that a search can be conducted at the consulate building,’ the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement on Tuesday.
The search will take place as part of the official investigation, which was being conducted ‘in an intense manner’, he said without giving any schedule.
Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post that she was ‘confident in the abilities of Turkish government officials’, imploring US President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance.
Trump expressed concern about Khashoggi’s case on Monday and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a thorough investigation.
Turkish police were looking into two private aircraft which landed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on October 2 at different times carrying 15 people of interest in the case, as well as the possibility that Khashoggi was kidnapped and taken aboard one of the planes, local media reported.
Previously Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had told Bloomberg that Riyadh would allow Turkish officials to search the premises.
Khashoggi, a former Saudi government adviser, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year fearing possible arrest.
He has been critical of some policies of the crown prince and Riyadh’s intervention in the war in Yemen.
Istanbul police experts are also analysing vehicles which entered and left the consulate, some of which were then seen on camera on October 2 at the consul general’s residence, 200 meters away.
Some ‘unconfirmed’ reports say the Turkish employees at the residence were ‘hastily’ told to take a holiday on the day Khashoggi went missing.