Turkish authorities suspect Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered inside the Kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul, according to multiple reports over the weekend. His body was then removed from the consulate in small boxes, an official claimed Sunday.
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul,” a Turkish official told Reuters.
“We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” they added.
Another official claimed a group of 15 Saudi nationals arrived in Istanbul on two planes and entered the consulate on the same day as Khashoggi, and later left the country.
Turan Kislakci, a friend of Khashoggi and the head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, told Associated Press that he had spoken to Turkish officials and they told him: “He was killed, make your funeral preparations.”
Kislakci said Sunday that Turkish police have evidence of the grisly crime that will be revealed in the next few days.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday he was monitoring the situation closely, saying Turkish authorities are looking at all video footage around the embassy.
“God willing, we will not be faced with a situation we do not want. I still am hopeful,” Erdogan said. “It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country.”
Khashoggi entered the Saudi embassy on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage, according to his Turkish fiancé, who waited for him outside until the embassy closed at 5 p.m.
Khashoggi is a prominent critic of the Saudi regime and in particular of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The journalist was previously close to the royal family, but he went into self-imposed exile after becoming disillusioned with the regime, and eventually moved to the U.S. and became a contributor to the Washington Post.
The Post's editorial board said Sunday that if the report of his death is true, “this is a horrific crime, the assassination of a journalist in his own country's consulate on foreign soil — something without precedent in modern times.”
The paper added that the U.S., a key ally of Saudi Arabia, should “demand answers” from Riyadh and if none are forthcoming, then Washington should “suspend all military cooperation with the Kingdom.”
Saudi authorities have called the allegations “baseless” saying Khashoggi left the embassy soon after he arrived. “We will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do. We have nothing to hide,” Bin Salman told Bloomberg Friday.
Cover image: Protestors hold pictures of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)