Prominent Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi is feared to have been ‘taken’ after his friends and colleagues stated that after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he has not been seen since, Al-Jazeera reported.
Khashoggi, who has been living in self-exile in the United States, entered the consulate’s premises at around 1pm in what seemed to be a routine visit to sort out paperwork, before disappearing, the Arabic-language Arab21 news website reported on Tuesday, quoting his fiance, AJ reported.
A columnist for the Washington Post, he has been severely critical of the current bid for reform of the Kingdom by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
His fiancee, requesting anonymity told the Post she accompanied him but waited outside and called the police when Khashoggi did not emerge after the consulate closed.
Turan Kislakci, a friend of Khashoggi’s who was also outside the consulate, told the newspaper, “I think 100 percent that he is inside.”
Al Jazeera quoted sources saying that Turkish police had begun searching for the dissident.
“We have been unable to reach Jamal today and are very concerned about where he may be,” Eli Lopez, the Post’s international opinions editor, said in a statement. “It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist and commentator.”
Earlier, Khashoggi had told Al-Jazeera’s programme, ‘UpFront’ hosted by prominent journalist, Mehdi Hasan in March that there was no room left for debate in Saudi Arabia, with citizens rounded up and jailed for questioning the government’s policies.
“As we speak today, there [are] Saudi intellectuals and journalists jailed. Now, nobody will dare to speak and criticise the reforms [initiated by the crown prince],” he said, adding “it would be much better for him to allow a breathing space for critics, for Saudi intellectuals, Saudi writers, Saudi media to debate”.