• Jamal Khashoggi: Who is he; what do we know about his disappearance?

    By: Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi Arabian government, went missing last week while inside of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

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    Khashoggi, 59, walked into the consulate at 1:14 p.m. on Oct. 2 to get a copy of his divorce papers so he could marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. He never walked out.

    Cengiz, 36, who accompanied Khashoggi to the consulate, waited outside of the building for Khashoggi for 11 hours.

    Khashoggi, an international journalist who had been living in the United States after leaving Saudi Arabia amid fears for his safety, writes a column for the Washington Post.

    A one-time adviser to top Saudi officials, Khashoggi became disillusioned with the Saudi government and left the country, he said, because he feared for his safety if he continued to speak out.

    “It was painful for me several years ago when several friends were arrested. I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom. I worried about my family,” Khashoggi wrote.

    “I have made a different choice now. I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”

    What happened to Khashoggi after he went into the Saudi consulate? Here’s what we know so far.

    Why did Khashoggi go to the consulate?

    Khashoggi went to the consulate on Sept. 28 to get a document that certified that he was divorced from his ex-wife. He needed the document to finalize his paperwork for his upcoming marriage to Cengiz. 

    He was told to come back, and was given an appointment for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 2. He arrived for his appointment about 16 minutes early and went into the building while Cengiz waited outside. 

    What do the Saudis say about Khashoggi?

    According to Saudi officials, Khashoggi came into the consulate for his appointment, completed his business there and left the building. 

    Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, said in a Wednesday, Oct. 3, interview with Bloomberg News that his government had heard “rumors about what happened” to Khashoggi. 

    “He’s a Saudi citizen and we are very keen to know what happened to him. And we will continue our dialogue with the Turkish government to see what happened to Jamal there.”

    Prince Mohammed said Khashoggi had left the consulate "after a few minutes or one hour. … We have nothing to hide," he added.

    Video of the area around the consulate does not show Khashoggi leaving the building. It does show Cengiz waiting in front of the building for hours.

    Here is part of a transcript from the Bloomberg interview with Prince Mohammed bin Salman:

    Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud: (MBS): We hear the rumors about what happened. He’s a Saudi citizen and we are very keen to know what happened to him. And we will continue our dialogue with the Turkish government to see what happened to Jamal there.

    Bloomberg: He went into the Saudi consulate.

    MBS: My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour. I’m not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time.

    Bloomberg: So he’s not inside the consulate?

    MBS: Yes, he’s not inside.

    Bloomberg: Turkish officials have said he’s still inside.

    MBS: We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises. The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do. If they ask for that, of course, we will allow them. We have nothing to hide.

    The prince’s brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who is the Saudi ambassador to the United States, told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, via a text message, that reports of Khashoggi’s disappearance “are completely false and baseless.”

    Here is part of the text of the message Swan says came from Prince Khalid bin Salman:

    "I hope all is well. 

    I am sure you are following the news stories about Jamal Khashoggi. There are many facts regarding his whereabouts that will hopefully be revealed through the ongoing investigation. Despite that, we have seen over the last few days various malicious leaks and grim rumors flying around about Jamal's whereabouts and fate.

    ... I know many in Washington, and the world over share this concern for his wellbeing. I assure you that the reports that suggest that Jamal Khashoggi went missing in the Consulate in Istanbul or that the Kingdom’s authorities have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless. The first reports out of Turkey were that he exited the Consulate and then disappeared. Shortly after the relevant authorities in the Kingdom became engaged in his case, the accusations changed to him being held inside the Consulate. After Turkish authorities and the media were allowed to inspect the Consulate building in its entirety, the accusations changed to the outrageous claim that he was murdered, in the Consulate, during business hours, and with dozens of staff and visitors in the building. I don't know who is behind these claims, or their intentions, nor do I care frankly. ... The Saudi Consulate is fully cooperating with the local authorities to uncover what happened after he left. 

    What does his fiancée say?

    Friends of Khashoggi reportedly said he told them he had been treated "very warmly" on his Sept. 28 visit to the consulate where he was told there would be no problems getting the paperwork he needed, but that he would have to come back on Oct. 2.

    According to Cengiz, Khashoggi was nervous and gave her two mobile phones to call an adviser to Turkish President Recep Erdogan if he did not come back out.

    Cengiz waited for more than four hours. Then she called the police.

    Cengiz said she waited a total of 11 hours outside of the consulate on Oct. 2, went home, then came back the next day.

    According to an op-ed in the Post, Cengiz said that while Khashoggi was nervous, he did not believe he would be in danger in the consulate building in Turkey.

    “… Yet Jamal did not think the Saudis could force him to stay at the consulate in Turkey, even if they wanted to arrest him. In other words, he did not mind walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul because he did not believe that something bad could happen on Turkish soil. It would be a violation of international law to harm, arrest or detain people at a diplomatic mission, he said, and noted that no such thing had ever happened in Turkey’s history. 

    “After a positive first meeting with consular staff, who welcomed him warmly and assured him that the necessary paperwork would come through, Jamal was hardly concerned ahead of his second visit. He walked into the consulate of Saudi Arabia, his native country, without doubting he would be safe there.”

     

     

    What do Turkish officials say?

    According to Turkish officials Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul shortly after he entered the building.

    According to a report in the Post, officials in Turkey said Khashoggi was killed by a 15-member Saudi team sent specifically for the murder. Turkish authorities have told U.S. officials that they have audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was detained, murdered and dismembered in the consulate building in Istanbul by the group.

    According to a Post story, Turkey has evidence of the moment Khashoggi was killed.

    “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” this person said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” A second person briefed on the recording said men could be heard beating Khashoggi.

    A timeline of what happened on Oct. 8

    The newspaper Sabah, a pro-government publication in Turkey, reports that it has identified the 15 members of the team suspected of killing Khashoggi.

    CCTV footage from the Istanbul airport appears to show the men entering the country.

    According to Sabah, nine of those identified as members of the team of suspects arrived via a private jet from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, a little after 3 a.m. The second group arrived in Turkey at 5:15 p.m. aboard both private jets and commercial flights.

    Vehicles that Turkish officials say contained the first group arrived at the consulate about an hour before Khashoggi’s appointment.

    About two hours after Khashoggi entered the consulate, around 3:08 p.m., CCTV footage shows one of those vehicles left the consulate and went to the residence of the Saudi consul, a short way away.

    At 6:20 p.m., one of the private jets that brought members of the team to Istanbul left Turkey and headed back to Riyadh. At 9 p.m., the second private jet left Turkey for Riyadh. 

    What do U.S. officials say?

    Several U.S. officials have spoken out about Khashoggi’s disappearance, including President Donald Trump. Here’s what they are saying:

    Sen. Bob Corker, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman: Corker said he believes Khashoggi was killed and that the Saudi government is responsible. “It would appear that he’s been murdered,” Corker, R-Tennessee, said. 

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina: Graham tweeted, “We agree if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the U.S.-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid — economically and otherwise.”

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida: Rubio pledged to “review all options in Senate,” tweeting that “the United States and the civilized world must respond strongly” if Khashoggi’s death is confirmed.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky: Paul said he will force a vote to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia if it is shown they had anything do with Khashoggi’s disappearance.

    Sec. of State Mike Pompeo: Pompeo in a statement called for “the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”

    President Trump: The president said he was concerned about Khashoggi’s disappearance and that his fiancée had contacted both him and first lady Melania Trump asking for help. “We’re being very tough. And we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey, and frankly we’re working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened,” Trump said Thursday morning.

     

    Saudi officials enter Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. A senior Turkish official says Turkey and Saudi Arabia will form a "joint working group" to look into the disappearance of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.
    AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

     

     

     

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