Scepticism over Turkish probe of Khashoggi disappearance

Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he does not know anything about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

Trump, speaking at the White House, said he did not know details about Khashoggi's disappearance.

As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

"There's some pretty bad stories about it".

A demonstrator holds picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul Friday.

"Just spoke to Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin about our shared concerns regarding the whereabouts and treatment of Mr Jamal Khashoggi", Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted Monday. His Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside the consulate, said he never came out of the building.

He is also a former editor of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan and had worked with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of the first Saudi king who was detained previous year as part of what the authorities said was an anti-corruption campaign.

A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before his disappearance.

Turkish authorities have told MEE they believe Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and critic of the Saudi govenrment, was killed soon after entering the building.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged the Saudis to back up their claim that Khashoggi left the consulate.

According to diplomatic sources, a diplomatic note was sent to the Turkish Foreign Ministry inviting Turkish officials to visit the consulate.

"We have to get an outcome from this investigation as soon as possible", Erdogan said from Budapest. Flight records reportedly show the group flew into Istanbul on two private flights Tuesday, and the delegation was at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.

A top Senate ally of Trump warned of a "devastating" impact on the United States alliance with Saudi Arabia if allegations are confirmed.

Turkish investigators believe that Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after he entered and his body was later removed from the premises, a US official and sources close to the investigation said.

Motasem pointed out that the family has taken legal action regarding Jamal's disappearance in coordination with the Saudi government and the measures are proceeding within a legal framework.

Trump, who has long criticized the USA media, on Monday said he was concerned about reports regarding the journalist and did not "like hearing about it", but that he hoped the situation "will sort itself out".

Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has launched a modernisation campaign since Prince Mohammed's appointment as heir to the throne. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar past year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

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