Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Monday ordered an internal probe into the unexplained disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a joint Turkish-Saudi team was set to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was last seen on Oct. 2, Reuters reported.
A Turkish diplomatic source said investigators would inspect the consulate on Monday afternoon, following delays last week when the two countries agreed to work together to find out what happened to Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s policies.
“The king has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the information from the joint team in İstanbul,” a Saudi official, not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters.
Asked when the public prosecutor could make an announcement about the investigation, the official said, “He was instructed to work quickly.”
Khashoggi, 59, a US resident, disappeared after entering the consulate to get marriage documents. Turkey believes he was murdered and his body removed, while Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.
The case has provoked an international outcry, with US President Donald Trump threatening “severe punishment” if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and European allies calling for “a credible investigation” and accountability for those responsible.
Saudi Arabia has responded by saying it would retaliate against any pressure or economic sanctions “with greater action,” and Arab allies rallied to support it, setting up a potential showdown between the global oil superpower and its main Western allies.
Turkey accepted a Saudi proposal last week to form a joint working group to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance.
King Salman and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday evening and stressed the importance of the two countries creating the joint group as part of the probe.
Concern over the disappearance has seen a growing number of attendees pull out of a “Davos in the Desert” investment conference set for Oct. 23-25, which has become the biggest show for investors to promote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform vision.