Saudi Arabia denies reports missing journalist murdered in Istanbul consulate
Saudi Arabia has denied reports that a missing Saudi journalist was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he vanished on Tuesday.
The official SPA news agency said on Sunday that reports that Jamal Khashoggi was killed after he entered the Saudi mission were "baseless", citing a consulate official.
The unnamed official also "expressed doubt" that the information had come from "Turkish officials informed on the investigation".
On Saturday, Turkish officials told multiple international news agencies that the prominent Saudi journalist and critic was murdered.
"Based on their initial findings, the police believe that the journalist was killed by a team especially sent to Istanbul and who left the same day," an official told AFP.
Turkish officials made similar statements to Reuters and The Associated Press.
A senior Turkish police source told London-based Middle East Eye that Khashoggi was "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces" inside the consulate.
Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday to receive an official document for his marriage and has not appeared since.
His Turkish fiancee reported him missing after Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year, failed to emerge from the consulate.
Saudi Arabia had dismissed earlier speculation about an abduction, however Turkish police on Saturday widened an investigation into the journalist's whereabouts.
In his columns, Khashoggi has been critical of some policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.
Khashoggi fled the country in September 2017, months after Prince Mohammed was appointed heir to the throne, amid a campaign that saw dozens of dissidents arrested including intellectuals and Islamic preachers.
At least 11 journalists are currently being detained in Saudi Arabia and the kingdom ranks as one of the worst in the world for the media.
Bin Salman has also detained dozens of potential royal and business rivals and held them in Riyadh's Ritz Hotel, including world famous entrepreneur Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.