Turkey, Saudi Arabia establishing joint ‘working group’ to probe Khashoggi case

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 11: Consulate officers are seen at the entrance of Saudi consulate as the waiting continues on the disappearance of Prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey on October 11, 2018. Khashoggi, a journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Thursday that Turkey and Saudi Arabia decided to establish a joint “working group” upon the latter’s request to investigate the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month, according to Turkish media.

Khashoggi, a journalist who left Saudi Arabia over a year ago to live in self-exile in the US, where he spoke out against the new leadership of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, failed to emerge following a visit to the Saudi consulate in İstanbul on Oct.2.

His whereabouts remains unknown.

Kalın said the joint working group would work to shed light on every aspect of the disappearance of Khashoggi.

The Saudi crown prince earlier denied in an interview with Bloomberg that the journalist was inside the consulate and said Turkish authorities could search the building.

“We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises,” he said.

However, one senior Turkish official said Saudi Arabia is delaying and does not want an investigative team to enter, The Washington Post reported.

“The Saudis now seem to delay,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. “They say: ‘You can’t make a proper investigation here. You just come here for a cup of tea and we’ll show you around’.”

“The Saudis are not cooperative in this investigation,” another Turkish official said. “We don’t have the access we need to the consulate or to the consul’s house.”

The consulate is Saudi sovereign territory.

Turkey’s foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Saudi Arabia’s ambassador over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The veteran journalist had previously expressed concerns about his safety. Khashoggi told The Wall Street Journal after leaving Saudi Arabia, saying, “It was becoming so suffocating back at home that I was beginning to fear for myself.”

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