Turkey’s Erdoğan says Saudis must prove missing journalist left their consulate alive

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanded on Monday that Saudi Arabia prove that journalist Jamal Khashoggi left the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul on his own, as Saudi officials have repeatedly asserted after he disappeared last week while inside the mission.

Erdoğan’s comments were his most direct suggestion yet of potential Saudi culpability in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But other Turkish officials have said they believe that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate.

“Do you not have cameras and things like that?” Erdoğan said of the consulate officials. “They have all of that. Then why do you not prove this? You need to prove it.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi ambassador to urge “full cooperation” in the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, the official Anadolu news agency said Monday.

The ambassador was called to the ministry in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Sunday, the agency said. It was the second time Turkey summoned the ambassador since Khashoggi failed to emerge following a visit to the consulate on Oct. 2.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the Saudi leadership and a contributor to The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, was killed by a team of 15 Saudis flown in specifically to carry out the attack. Saudi authorities have called the allegation “baseless.”

Turkey has yet to make any evidence public. Private Turkish broadcaster NTV reported on Monday that police had requested access to the Saudi Consulate General. It was unclear whether the police were granted access or whether they would search the diplomatic mission in İstanbul’s Levent district at a later date.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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