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Erdogan on Khashoggi vanishing: Upsetting this happens in Turkey

Turkish leader 'still hopeful' about fate of Jamal Khashoggi who vanished after visiting Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is hopeful about the fate of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi amid reports that the critic may have been killed shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Erdogan told reporters on Sunday that authorities were looking into all video surveillance footage of the mission's entrances and monitoring all inbound and outbound flights since the writer disappeared on Tuesday.

"I am following the [issue] and we will inform the world whatever the outcome [of the official probe]", Erdogan said.

"God willing, we will not be faced with a situation we do not want. I still am hopeful," adding that "it is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country".

Turkish sources told the Reuters news agency on Saturday they believed Khashoggi was killed at the consulate in what they described as a "premeditated murder".

An unnamed source inside the consulate, however, was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as denying the claims, saying the accusations were "baseless". 

A leading critic of the Saudi government's reform programme under the stewardship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in the US for over a year. 

"One of the political sources said it was confident Turkey's reaction would be 'very strong'."

Saudi officials in Istanbul 

Earlier on Saturday, sources said that a delegation of 15 Saudi officials arrived in Turkey the day Khashoggi, 59, disappeared.

The revelations came as Turkey widened its investigation into the disappearance of the dissident Saudi journalist after Saudi Arabia failed to back its claim that he left the consulate on Tuesday.

Turkey's ruling party also said it will "uncover" the details surrounding Khashoggi's vanishing, adding that the country's sensitivity on the issue was at the "highest level".

"The condition of the lost journalist, details on him and who is responsible for this will be uncovered," AK Party spokesman Omer Celik told reporters at a party summit chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Diplomatic row

On Friday, Turkey's foreign ministry summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Ankara over the issue.

Later that day, the crown prince said Saudi authorities would allow Turkey to search its consulate.


READ MORE: Saudi Arabia will allow Turkey to search consulate for Khashoggi


"We will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do ... we have nothing to hide," MBS told Bloomberg on Friday.

Saudi Arabia invited a group of journalists into the Istanbul mission on Saturday, in an effort to show that Khashoggi was not on the premises.

"I would like to confirm that ... Jamal is not at the consulate nor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the consulate and the embassy are working to search for him," consul-general Mohammad al-Otaiba told Reuters.

Khashoggi had entered the consulate's premises at around 1pm (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday to secure paperwork in order to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

Hatice said she waited outside after Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on Tuesday and never re-emerged. Following the initial announcement by Turkish sources of Khashoggi's killing, she tweeted in Arabic her refusal to believe that is the case.

Translation: Jamal was not killed and I do not believe that he has been murdered...!

Rights groups had called on Saudi Arabia to verify Khashoggi's whereabouts, with Human Rights Watch calling on Turkey to deepen its investigation into the case, saying if Saudi Arabia had detained Khashoggi without acknowledging it, his detention would constitute an enforced disappearance.

Khashoggi's suspected killing may further strain relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who are on opposite sides of the multination blockade of Qatar and other regional crises.

In his writings for the Washington Post, the Saudi commentator had slammed Saudi policies towards Qatar and Canada, the war in Yemen, and a crackdown on dissent and the media in the kingdom.


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