AP Analysis: Missing writer shows Saudi Arabia's dark side

AP Analysis: Missing writer shows Saudi Arabia's dark side

Karman talks to the media during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Washington Post worldwide opinions editor Eli Lopez said in a statement, "It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist and commentator".

Mr Erdogan said he is still hopeful that Jamal Khashoggi is alive.

He added, "we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do ..."

The Washington Post columnist and gadfly to the Saudi royal family disappeared a week ago after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to settle some paperwork.

"We'll see severe problems arise because if the Turks are able to prove Saudi has killed a journalist who was engaged to a Turkish citizen, who was legally here and who was not wanted for any crime either by Interpol or even the Saudis themselves, it will cause a big diplomatic fallout", he said.

Mr Erdogan, who said he was personally following the case, added that Turkey had no documents or evidence at hand regarding the case.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has met ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud to "seek answers", a day after Downing Street said the United Kingdom was "working urgently" to establish the facts behind the disappearance.

Police said earlier that about 15 Saudis arrived in Istanbul on two flights last Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.

Other Turkish officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told outlets that they believed Khashoggi had been killed. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar past year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

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"He entered the general consulate himself and if he has entered by himself and if he did not exit it, of course this should be proven by the general consulate", Erdogan said at a press conference in Budapest.

Asked about reports the journalist was killed in the Saudi consulate, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said, "We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are closely following the situation".

Saudi Arabia insists the allegations it faces over Khashoggi's disappearance are "baseless", but has not offered any evidence over the last week to support their claim he simply walked away and vanished into Istanbul though his fiancée waited just outside.

As every country across the Mideast does with its leaders, it's hard to escape posters and laudatory fawning over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview Friday that Turkish authority could search their consulate, as they had "nothing to hide".

Both sources said it is unlikely that Turkey would make a cold, economic calculation by giving the Saudi government a pass over the case in exchange for keeping their economic ties intact.

As a contributor to the Post, he has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticising its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

However, Mohamad Dalbah, a Washington-based Middle East analyst, said that at the end of the day, Turkey will behave like any other country in the world and put its interests over the issues of human rights or the disappearance of an Arab journalist.

Reuters news agency is given a tour of the six-storey Saudi consulate to prove that the missing journalist is not being detained there.

Human rights groups have called on Saudi Arabia to verify his whereabouts. While the Guardian did run a column about Khashoggi on its front page, some Twitter users noted that it seemed like the newspaper was trying to downplay the story by not making it the main focus.

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