The foreign ministry of Turkey said Tuesday it will conduct a search of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered to fill out paperwork but apparently never returned from.
Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who was living in exile in the United States and writing opinion columns for The Washington Post, has been a vocal critic of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has extensive intimate knowledge into his inner circle. While the Saudi government alleges that Khashoggi left the consulate after his visit last week, his fiancee maintains that he never did. Media reports have called into question whether the journalist is still alive.
A probe Turkey launched into the case is now expanding with the cooperation of the Saudi government, which reportedly agreed to a search of its Istanbul consulate.
“Although consular premises are inviolable according to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the receiving state can conduct an examination in these premises with the consent of the head of the diplomatic mission,” spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry Hami Aksoy said in a statement. “The Saudi authorities have notified that they are open to cooperation in this regard and that the examination can be conducted in their consular buildings in Istanbul.”
Saudi Arabia has denied any allegations that Khashoggi was killed while in the consulate.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday night that State Department officials had raised the matter, which he called “concerning,” through diplomatic channels with the Saudi government, while also calling on the Middle Eastern kingdom to investigate. Trump similarly said on Monday, “I don’t like hearing about it and hopefully that will sort itself out.”
Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) have all called for more information about Khashoggi’s whereabouts.