Watchdog 'seriously concerned' about Saudi journalist's disappearance at consulate

Media watchdog 'seriously concerned' about Saudi journalist's disappearance after consulate visit
2 min read
03 October, 2018
A media watchdog says it is concerned by reports about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after visiting the kingdom's consulate in Turkey.
Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul [AFP]
A leading media watchdog has expressed "serious concern" about the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist after he visited the kingdom's diplomatic mission in Turkey this week.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement on Wednesday after Jamal Khashoggi went missing for over 24-hours, when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday.

"The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017 and urges Saudi authorities to immediately disclose his whereabouts," the watchdog stated.

"Khashoggi - a columnist for The Washington Post and a former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan who writes critically about Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman - entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul yesterday to complete paperwork and failed to emerge after the consulate officially closed."

Khashoggi's disappearance has raised alarm among family and friends, who fear he is still being held against his will inside the Saudi consulate or abducted and sent back to the kingdom.

The journalist is a known critic of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has launched a fierce crackdown on opponents of his rule.

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.

A recent BBC documentary also claimed that three princes were abducted by Saudi authorities from abroad before being hurried back to the kingdom, and have not been heard of since.

The CPJ has called on Riyadh to clarify the location of Khashoggi, despite its official explanation that the journalist left the consulate shortly after completing paperwork.

Turkey said CCTV footage does not show Khashoggi leaving the building.

"Saudi authorities must immediately verify the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour.

"Given the Saudi authorities' pattern of quietly detaining critical journalists, Khashoggi's failure to emerge from the Saudi consulate on the day he entered is a cause for alarm."