Saudi journalist disappears from consulate in Turkey

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Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Turkey was on Thursday summoned to the foreign ministry after a prominent journalist critical of Riyadh went missing.

His Turkish fiancée reported him missing after the journalist, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since previous year to avoid possible arrest, was not seen after he entered the consulate on Tuesday afternoon for marriage procedures.

On Thursday, the official Saudi Press Agency cited the consulate as saying it was "carrying out follow-up procedures and co-ordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building".

"We don't know if he is being detained, questioned, or when he will be released", the Washington Post said.

He gave her his mobile phones for safekeeping, a common occurrence as many embassies routinely require that phones be left outside as a security precaution.

"According to the information we have, this person who is a Saudi citizen is still at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul", said Kalın.

The State Department said it was aware of Khashoggi's disappearance and was seeking more information.

His fiance said Khashoggi visited the consulate to obtain some documents in order to be married next week.

"We will continue to follow the issue very closely", he said.

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It said in a tweet that Adel Merdad, the Saudi undersecretary for political and economic affairs, had talks with Turkish Ambassador Erdogan Kok in Riyadh. Speaking to reporters at the presidential complex in Ankara, Ibrahim Kalin said Turkish authorities believed the journalist was still at the consulate. "Now, nobody will dare to speak and criticise the reforms [initiated by the crown prince]", he said, adding that "it would be much better for him to allow a breathing space for critics, for Saudi intellectuals, Saudi writers, Saudi media to debate".

"After 9 pm, more than five hours after the consulate had closed, his friend and fiancée were still waiting outside the consulate in the dark for Khashoggi to come out", Hatice said.

"I don't know what's happening".

Mr Khashoggi, 59, had been living in self-imposed exile in the USA since Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, came to power in 2017.

He is also known for his close association with the young Osama Bin Laden, with whom he travelled extensively in Afghanistan in the 1980s during the Soviet occupation - though he publicly rejected Bin Laden's later ideologies and had lost touch with him long before the 2001 attacks on the US.

The Post said it was "extremely concerned" about Khashoggi. In the early 1990s, he tried to persuade bin Laden to reconcile with the Saudi royal family and return home from his base in Sudan, but the al-Qaeda leader refused.

Formerly an editor of the Al-Watan newspaper and of a short-lived Saudi TV news channel, Khashoggi has also been a contributor to BBC programmes about Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

The Saudi authorities have arrested hundreds of people over the past year, often on murky charges, including women's rights advocates, dissidents and popular clerics, according to human rights groups.

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