WASHINGTON – The United States asked Saudi Arabia on Monday to support a “thorough” and “transparent” probe into the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist, after Turkey pressured the Saudi government to clarify his whereabouts.
Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since Oct. 2 in Istanbul, when he visited the Saudi consulate with his Turkish girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, to pick up a document that he needed for their upcoming wedding.
“We call on 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,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Pompeo added that “state Department senior officials have spoken with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through diplomatic channels about this matter.”
He also expressed his concern about the contradictory reports on the safety and whereabouts of Khashoggi.
A few hours earlier, US President Donald Trump also voiced his worries over the matter.
“I am concerned about it,” Trump said on returning to Washington DC after a visit to Florida, adding “I don’t like hearing about it, and hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.”
Khashoggi distanced himself from the Saudi monarchy in 2017 and went into exile in the US, where he began writing op-eds for the Washington Post criticizing his country’s royal institutions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded on Monday the authorities of Saudi Arabia prove the journalist left the consulate alive with images from the security cameras. The Turkish government also asked for permission to search the premises of the consulate.
The Turkish authorities have not ruled on the possibility that Khashoggi has been killed, as reported by his friends and colleagues.