U.S. officials are showing increasing concern over the whereabouts of a prominent Saudi dissident journalist and contributor to The Washington Post who reportedly went missing after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Jamal Khashoggi, also a U.S. resident, disappeared last Tuesday after going to the consulate for administrative documents. His fiancee says she waited 11 hours outside for him, but he never came out.
President Donald Trump said Monday that he was “concerned” about the situation.
“I am concerned about that,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t like hearing about it and hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows anything about it.”
“There’s some pretty bad stories about it. I do not like it,” he added.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan voiced his concern the same day, calling the reports “very disturbing.” He also called on the U.S. to obtain “clear facts” from both the Turkish and Saudi governments. (RELATED: Prominent Saudi Journalist Reportedly Killed In ‘Pre-Planned Murder’ At Consulate In Turkey)
“We [will] stand and fight for answers,” Ryan said at the National Press Club.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Trump’s remarks saying that the U.S. is troubled about Khashoggi’s disappearance and they have spoken to officials of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about his status.
“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,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The Trump administration’s relatively close relationship with Saudi Arabia will be under scrutiny to actually follow through on said concerns and to pressure the Saudi government on the validity of Turkish reports that Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi.
Turkish authorities said Saturday that a team of 15 Saudi agents went to the consulate with the specific intent of killing, and therefore silencing, Khashoggi.
The Saudi government has denied this story and claims, without providing corroborating evidence, that the journalist left the consulate not long after he arrived.
Vice President Mike Pence defended the freedom and importance of journalists around the world in a Monday tweet, and a handful of other lawmakers also acknowledged the potential tragedy.
Deeply troubled to hear reports about Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If true, this is a tragic day. Violence against journalists across the globe is a threat to freedom of the press & human rights. The free world deserves answers.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 8, 2018
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also defended the safety of journalists abroad.
Our thoughts are with #JamalKhashoggi’s family and colleagues at the @washingtonpost. I have raised Jamal’s disappearance personally with the Saudi ambassador, and while we await more information, know we will respond accordingly to any state that targets journalists abroad.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 8, 2018
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the Saudi government has finally given them permission to search the consulate in Istanbul as part of their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The Washington Post reported a picture of the Khashoggi’s last known appearance in public, his final steps into the consulate.
“I no longer feel like I am really alive,” she said. “I can’t sleep. I don’t eat.” The fiancee of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks to @smekhennet @LovedayM about his last moments before his disappearance. https://t.co/aUEy4BFlwX
— Sudarsan Raghavan (@raghavanWaPo) October 9, 2018
NBC News reported Tuesday that Khashoggi’s friends described him as “deeply afraid” of his government’s leaders in the months leading up to his disappearance.
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