An adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he believed prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for six days, was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old veteran journalist who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since Prince Mohammed's rise to power, disappeared October 2 while on a visit to the consulate to get paperwork done to be married to his Turkish fiancÃ©e.
Instead, Saudis I have spoken to believe that, despite official denials, one possible scenario is that he was abducted inside the consulate, driven out in a diplomatic vehicle and "rendered" back to Saudi Arabia to either face retribution or be held incommunicado under indefinite house arrest.
The incident has put into sharp focus Saudi Arabia's young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's perceived crackdown on dissidents, his kingdom's delicate relationship with Turkey and Khashoggi 's influence within the royal court.
The alleged murder has now provided the Turkish government with readymade fodder on a silver platter, who, in all likelihood, would exploit it to the hilt for its political advantages.
Officials in Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "I can not believe that he has been killed.!"
Earlier Tuesday morning, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hami Aksoy, said the Saudis had confirmed they were "open to cooperation" and would allow the consulate building to be searched. Saudi authorities have called the allegation "baseless".
A senior Turkish police source told Middle East Eye that police believed that Khashoggi was "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces" inside the consulate after visiting the building on October 2.
Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi was last seen visiting the building last week.
Mr Trump's position is in line with the State Department whose spokeswoman Heather Nauert reiterated on Monday that the United States is "not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are closely following the situation". She accused Saudi Arabia of "state terrorism" and called on the global community to take action against the kingdom.
Fusun Arsava, an worldwide law professor at Ankara's Atilim University, told Al-Monitor that even if reports of Khashoggi's murder were true, that would be extremely hard for the Turkish authorities to prove.
Flight records show two Saudi planes arrived at Istanbul's Ataturk airport on Tuesday and departed separately that same day, hours after Khashoggi was last seen.
According to Turkish authorities, it is their strong assessment that not only was the murder premeditated, Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents and his "dead body" was later mysteriously removed.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud told Bloomberg on Friday that Khashoggi was not in the consulate, and his country is investigating.
As Khashoggi wrote in his first column in the Post: 'That is how breathtakingly fast you can fall out of favor with Saudi Arabia'. "This case sends a shockwave among Saudi Arabian human rights defenders and dissidents everywhere, eroding any notion of seeking safe haven overseas". "I can speak when so many cannot".
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