A day after it was reported that a prominent critic of the Saudi regime, Jamal Khashoggi ‘never left the Saudi consulate’ and was feared to have been ‘taken’, Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul insisted Thursday that Jamal had left their premises before disappearing, Al-Jazeera reported.
In a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, “The consulate confirmed that it is carrying out follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building,” it said without elaborating.
The statement arrived after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Wednesday night that authorities believed the journalist was still there.
“According to the information we have, this person who is a Saudi citizen is still at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul,” Ibrahim Kalin said. “We don’t have information to the contrary.”
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.”