A Saudi Arabian journalist has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this week.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national and a contributor to The Washington Post, has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year when Saudi authorities began to crack down on dissident voices. The journalist has been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
Khashoggi went to the consulate Tuesday to obtain documents for his wedding.
His fiancee waited from him outside the consulate, but Khashoggi never came out of the building, she said.
She reported him missing, and Turkey summoned the Saudi ambassador.
Media reports say the Saudi ambassador met Wednesday with Turkey’s deputy foreign minister.
After the meeting, Saudi Arabia denied detaining Khashoggi.
Turkey, however, claimed to have information that Khashoggi was being held at the consulate.
“If Saudi authorities surreptitiously detained Khashoggi it would be yet another escalation of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s reign of repression against peaceful dissidents and critics,” said Sarah Leah Whiteson, Human Rights Watch’s Middle East director. “The burden of proof is on Saudi Arabia to produce evidence for its claim that Khashoggi left the consulate alone, and that Saudi agents have not detained him.”
‘A missing voice’
On Friday, The Washington Post printed a blank column with the headline “A Missing Voice” in solidarity with Khashoggi.
The journalist’s fiancee told the newspaper that Khashoggi “had been concerned about going to the consulate.” She said, “How comfortable can one be if he is not liked by his country?”
Sherif Mansour, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said “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.”
CPJ said in a statement it has recently documented a steadily increasing number of bloggers and journalists detained in unknown locations without charges since the start of what Saudi authorities term an anti-corruption campaign in September 2017.