Turkish and Saudi authorities gave conflicting accounts on Wednesday about the whereabouts of Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi, who moved to Washington previous year fearing retribution for his views and has not been seen almost 30 hours after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
After an initial period of silence Saudi Arabia said the consulate was working with Turkish authorities "to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building". The fiancee, who asked that her name be withheld, called police when Khashoggi did not emerge at 5 p.m., after the consulate had officially closed.
U.S. officials on Wednesday said they were looking into his case, as a spokesman for the Turkish presidency said Khashoggi had entered the Saudi consulate but had not left.
"Jamal and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues but having him go missing like this is terrible", he said.
He went into a self-imposed exile in the United States following the ascension of Prince Mohammed, now next in line to the throne of his father, 82-year-old King Salman. "We want him to come out of the consulate safe and sound".
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"It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist", The Post's global opinions editor, Eli Lopez, said in a statement.
Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate building on Tuesday where he was to receive an official document for his marriage. Where is he? If he went home, no, I went to the house and didn't find him. "We have talked with some Turkish authorities and the police", he said.
Another close friend also said the 59-year-old journalist had not left the consulate, a claim disputed by a Saudi official.
The Arab21 news website reported that the author paid a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, but was told by officials at the time to return at a later date to complete an application related to a family matter. The Turkish Arab Media Association said members would remain outside the consulate to keep up the public and media pressure to secure his release. The journalist's fiance and friends believe Khashoggi has been held at the consulate since he entered it.
"Mr Khashoggi visited the consulate to request paperwork related to his marital status and exited shortly thereafter", said the statement, which was attributed to an unnamed Saudi official.
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He is one of the rare Saudi journalists to condemn repression in the country.
Ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been strained in the past year by a dispute over Qatar.
He was famous for interviewing Osama bin Laden several times and also served as a media aide under Prince Turki al-Faisal, when the latter was Director General of the Saudi intelligence agency.
"I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice", he wrote in a column past year. Khashoggi said the choice for self-exile was hard but ultimately the right decision. "I can speak when so many cannot".
Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has launched a modernisation campaign since the 2017 appointment of Prince Mohammed as heir to the throne.
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