Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Turkish authorities to search the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul after reports of a Saudi journalist going missing last week after he entered the consulate, AFP reported on Tuesday.
Police in Turkey believe that Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, may have been killed inside the consulate and his body driven out of the compound.
“Saudi authorities said they were open to cooperation and that a search can be conducted at the consulate building,” Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
Aksoy said the search will take place as part of the official investigation, but did not mention when the search will be conducted.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg that he is ready to allow Turkey to search the consulate. “The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do,” he said. “We have nothing to hide.”
The crown prince said Khashoggi left the building not long after he entered. When asked if Khashoggi faced charges in Saudi Arabia, Salman said it was first important to discover where he was. “If he’s in Saudi Arabia, I would know that,” he said.
Khashoggi, a former Saudi government adviser, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017 fearing arrest.
Turkish and Saudi authorities have given conflicting accounts of Khashoggi’s disappearance. Ankara said there was no evidence to show he left the consulate after entering, while Riyadh said he exited the same day.
According to Turkish investigators, a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia” to murder the dissident, The Washington Post reported. They, however, offered no specific evidence to back up their claim. Khashoggi used to contribute to The Post’s opinion section.
“Given the Saudi authorities’ pattern of quietly detaining critical journalists, Khashoggi’s failure to emerge from the Saudi consulate on the day he entered is a cause for alarm,” said Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, according to Reuters.