Turkish police leave Saudi consulate in Istanbul after nine hours

Deanna Kelley
October 16, 2018

Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documents to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Khashoggi vanished on a visit to the consulate two weeks ago. America's top diplomat thanked the king "for accepting my visit on behalf of President (Donald) Trump" before going into a closed-door meeting.

The new explanation, whatever its truth, seemed meant to ease the political crisis that Khashoggi's disappearance has created for Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters that it is possible that some "rogue element" within the government could have carried out this inhuman act.

And it could help Turkey, where a shaky economy would benefit from a financial infusion that low-interest loans from Riyadh could provide.

The US-based Soufan Center slammed Trump's approach, saying the US-Saudi relationship "since the ascendance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman demonstrates the problem with basing relationships on personalities over principles". Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., wrote in a Twitter post.

President Donald Trump on Monday talked to the Saudi King, during which the latter flatly denied having any knowledge of the missing journalist. "I mean, who knows?"

The Saudi government is preparing to a release a report claiming that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as a result of a botched interrogation, CNN reported on Monday. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Crown Prince Mohammed had approved interrogating or even forcing Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia under duress.

An escalation could also affect intelligence-sharing and trade between Saudi Arabia and Western countries, but Heisbourg said Saudi Arabia has "no interest in going too far".

In this file photo taken on December 15, 2014, Jamal Khashoggi looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama.

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King Salman ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi case, a Saudi official said. It was not clear when he might be replaced, or by whom.

Washington's clubby diplomatic and lobbying worlds have been rived by the Khashoggi case.

They include the CEO of Uber, a company in which Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars; billionaire Richard Branson; JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Advisers close to Crown Prince Mohammed said he was shocked by the universal condemnation after Khashoggi's disappearance.

Khashoggi was a U.S. resident and wrote for The Washington Post, splitting his time among Virginia, London, and Istanbul since leaving Saudi Arabia.

Heisbourg said a Saudi oil embargo would make U.S. shale oil producers "rub their hands" in glee. In statements after the call, both praised the creation of a joint Saudi-Turkish probe.

Turkish officials said they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. The evidence never surfaced, however, and the claims stopped after a sudden increase in high-level diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That potentially offers the USA -allied kingdom a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.

Media reports indicate that the Kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed in the consulate. Those intercepts were shared with senators in classified materials last week, making it impossible to suppress them. U.S. lawmakers have been demanding to scrap the $110 billion mega defence deal with the Saudis, whereas heads of several companies, CEOs, newspapers have announced not to attend an upcoming finance conference in Saudi Arabia.

In a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday, Trump said there would be consequences if it turned out Saudi Arabia had anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance. But Trump was already facing pressure from some in Congress to respond to the Saudis with economic sanctions.

Khashoggi moved to Washington after Crown Prince Mohammed began a kingdomwide anti-corruption crackdown, including efforts to silence dissidents.

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