The Latest: Turkish media: Saudi consul leaves country




  • In World
  • 2018-10-16 14:56:27Z
  • By Associated Press

ISTANBUL (AP) - The Latest on the disappearance of a Saudi writer who Turkish officials fear was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul (all times local):

6 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says the Saudi consul to Istanbul has left for Saudi Arabia, hours after Turkey said his official residence would be searched in connection with a Saudi writer's disappearance.

The Anadolu news agency reported Tuesday that Consul Mohammed al-Otaibi flew out of the country on a 2 p.m. flight.

Saudi Arabia had no immediate comment on his departure.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry says police will search his official residence and vehicles belonging to the consulate. Authorities have offered no timeframe for those searches.

Turkish forensic teams finished a search of the Saudi Consulate early Tuesday, two weeks after Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi vanished. Turkish officials fear Saudi agents killed him in the consulate and disposed of his body.

Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but U.S. media reports suggest the Saudis may acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.

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5 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a U.S.-based journalist "murdered" in the Saudi consulate in Turkey and has "tainted" his country as a result.

The influential Republican and ally of President Donald Trump says the crown prince "has got to go." Graham says he will not return to Saudi Arabia while the prince is in power.

Graham says he has been the "biggest defender" of the kingdom, but that he now plans to "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia."

The senator spoke Tuesday on "Fox & Friends." He cited published reports that Prince Mohammed had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, and that an intelligence official who was a friend of the crown prince had killed the journalist.

Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Turkey has said it fears Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team. Saudi Arabia has denied that, but published reports have said the kingdom may be preparing to acknowledge killing the journalist during an interrogation gone wrong.

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4:45 p.m.

A high-level Turkish official says police have found "certain evidence" during their search of the Saudi Consulate showing that Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed there.

The official did not provide details on the evidence that was recovered during the hourslong search at the diplomatic mission that ended early Tuesday.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but U.S. media reports suggest the Saudis may soon acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.

- Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey

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4 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister says consulates shouldn't be places where people are interrogated.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia hadn't offered any confession to Turkey over its alleged involvement in the disappearance and feared slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Asked about a New York Times report that Saudi Arabia might say Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone wrong, the minister said: "We have not received such information."

He added: "Consulates aren't places to hold interrogations. Interrogations should take place in courts, (by) judiciary authorities."

The minister also confirmed that Turkish authorities would search the Saudi consul's residence in Istanbul and vehicles belonging to the consulate. He offered no timeframe for those searches.

Turkish forensic teams finished a search of the Saudi Consulate early Tuesday, two weeks after Khashoggi vanished. It was not clear if any significant evidence has been found.

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3:10 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Prince Mohammed said during the meeting on Tuesday: "We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together - the past, the day of, tomorrow."

Pompeo thanked Prince Mohammed for hosting him.

The meeting came two weeks after the disappearance of Khashoggi, who went into a self-imposed exile in the United States amid Prince Mohammed's rise.

Turkish officials fear Saudi officials killed and dismembered the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but reports suggest they may acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there.

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3 p.m.

France's foreign minister is warning of possible "consequences" for the disappearance and suspected slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday called the disappearance "extremely serious" and said France is pushing, with other countries, for "the greatest clarity on what took place."

He added that "if these alleged serious actions were committed, there should be consequences."

Le Drian said he discussed the case Tuesday with the visiting foreign minister of Germany, Heiko Maas.

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1:50 p.m.

The U.N. human rights office is calling for the immediate and "absolute" lifting of diplomatic immunity enjoyed by any officials or premises in the investigation into the disappearance and suspected slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the "inviolability or immunity" of people or premises granted under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations "should be waived immediately."

She said Tuesday the "onus is on the Saudi authorities" to reveal what happened, and insisted "no further obstacles" should be placed in the way of a quick, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation.

Bachelet stopped short of calling for an international investigation.

Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said "we hope the lifting of immunity is absolute" and that "investigators need to be able to investigate everything they may wish."

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1:30 p.m.

Turkish media are quoting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying police investigators have searched for traces of "toxic materials" at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared two weeks ago.

NTV television says Erdogan made the comments to a group of journalists on Tuesday.

Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but reports suggest they may acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there.

Turkish forensic investigators searched the consulate overnight. A Turkish official said on Tuesday the top Saudi diplomat's residence in Istanbul would also be searched.

State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying Turkey wished a "result that allows us to reach an opinion" as to what happened to the journalist.

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12:30 p.m.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official says Turkish authorities will search the residence of the top Saudi diplomat in Istanbul over missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

The official did not say when the search of the consul's home would take place. The official spoke on Tuesday on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.

Khashoggi disappeared two weeks ago on a visit to the consulate. Turkish officials fear Saudi officials killed and dismembered the writer inside the mission. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but reports suggest they may acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there.

Overnight, Turkish forensic teams searched the consulate building in Istanbul where Khashoggi was last seen entering. Turkish officials have not said if any significant evidence was found.

Surveillance footage leaked in Turkish media shows vehicles moving between the consulate and the consul's home after Khashoggi's disappearance.

-Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey;

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12:05 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting now with Saudi King Salman over the disappearance of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo arrived at a royal palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. The king greeted Pompeo by saying: "I hope you are comfortable here."

Pompeo responded: "Thank you for accepting my visit on behalf of President (Donald) Trump."

Pompeo is to also meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Khashoggi wrote critically about in The Washington Post and whose rise in power saw the writer go into a self-imposed exile in the U.S.

Khashoggi disappeared two weeks ago at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkey fears Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at the consulate. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but reports suggest the kingdom may soon acknowledge the writer was killed there.

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11:45 a.m.

The United Nations' high commissioner for human rights is urging Saudi Arabia and Turkey to "reveal everything they know about the disappearance and possible extrajudicial killing" of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Michelle Bachelet made the comment on Tuesday as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia to talk to King Salman about Khashoggi's disappearance.

Meanwhile, Turkish forensic investigators overnight searched the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi disappeared Oct. 2.

Bachelet said: "Given there seems to be clear evidence that Mr. Khashoggi entered the consulate and has never been seen since, the onus is on the Saudi authorities to reveal what happened to him from that point onwards."

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9:55 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman over the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo landed on Tuesday morning in Riyadh and was to immediately meet the king over the crisis surrounding Khashoggi, who disappeared two weeks ago on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials say they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudi officials previously have called the allegations "baseless," but reports in U.S. media on Tuesday suggested the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed there.

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7:20 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way to Saudi Arabia to speak to its king over the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo was in the air when a Turkish police forensics team wrapped up its hourslong search of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul early Tuesday morning.

Khashoggi vanished on a visit to the consulate two weeks ago. Turkish officials fear he was killed and dismembered. Saudi Arabia has called those allegations "baseless," but has been unable to explain what happened to him.

Reports overnight by U.S. media suggest Saudi Arabia soon may concede Khashoggi was killed at the consulate in an interrogation.

The kingdom has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press.

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