Turkish police focus on 7 suspects in Khashoggi case

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chairs the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. — SPA

Saudi Consul-General Mohammad al-Otaibi said Saudi officials were searching for the journalist and gave a tour of the consulate to Reuters reporters to prove Khashoggi was not there.

Photos have surfaced of a 15-member "assassination squad" allegedly sent after the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

Private broadcaster NTV reported on October 9 that all suspects were seen entering the consulate half an hour before Khashoggi and leaving it after nearly three hours. Riyadh claims he exited through a back door, the Turks are dubious and the search is on for clues. "Consulate officials can not save themselves by simply saying 'he has left, '" Erdogan told a news conference in Budapest, where he is on an official visit.

It says the journalist left the consulate shortly after arriving, while Turkey says he was not seen leaving the building.

"I don't like hearing about it, and hopefully that will sort itself out". He added that Saudi Arabia's agreeing to Turkey's request to search the consulate would "at best reduce tensions between the two countries".

According to the Times account, 15 Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights last Tuesday, the day Khashoggi disappeared. So far, senior USA administration officials have had little to say publicly on the matter, which is concerning.

His disappearance has sparked global concerns, particularly after Turkish sources said over the weekend that authorities believed he had been killed inside the consulate.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the USA officials had seen "conflicting reports" about the status of the Washington Post contributor, and so were unwilling to "make any judgments about what happened to him".

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The source said they were told Mr Khashoggi is still alive, contradicting the claims he was murdered in the Istanbul consulate.

The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that it did not dismiss the possibility that Khashoggi's sudden disappearance was an attempt to silence the writer.

A ministry statement said Saudi Arabia indicated it was open to cooperation.

Human rights activists hold pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey Oct. 9, 2018.

It's been nearly a week since a prominent Saudi journalist vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to comment publicly. The fact that Khashoggi is a columnist for the Washington Post, which Trump consistently attacks, may have made it even less likely that Trump would make it clear he was concerned about the disappearance.

"We call for cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and to make the findings public", United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing.

The prince emphasized Saudi Arabia is taking "extraordinary" measures to locate Khashoggi, "just as we would if it were any other Saudi citizen".

The mainstream is pointing to Donald Trump's close ties to the 33-year-old Crown Prince, without noting that support for the Saudi regime is longstanding and bipartisan; in 2011 Barack Obama approved $60 billion in arms sales to the kingdom, up to that point the largest weapons transaction in history.

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