‘Where Is Jamal?’ Here’s What to Know About Missing Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi
Prominent Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi mysteriously vanished earlier this week and has not been heard from since Tuesday, according to the Post.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding, his fiancée told the Post. Saudi Arabia denied detaining him.

But on Wednesday, as Khashoggi’s lengthening absence raised fears that he is being held incommunicado, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi ambassador to discuss the whereabouts of the journalist, who is well-known for criticizing the Saudi leadership.

“It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist and commentator,” The Post said in a statement. “We hope that he is safe and that we can hear from him soon.”

The State Department has also requested information about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

With no sign of Khashoggi forthcoming, the Post published a blank space where his column would have run in Friday’s print edition.

As the mystery deepens, here’s what to know.

When did he go missing?

Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate around 1:00 p.m. Tuesday to pick-up marriage documents, according to the Post. His fiancée, a Turkish national, called the police when the consulate closed. Khashoggi had not reemerged.

Turkey has said it believes Khashoggi is still inside the consulate. Saudi officials say otherwise.

Khashoggi, 59, is among the Arab world’s best-known journalists and political commentators. He has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since fleeing Saudi Arabia last year. As a Post contributor, he frequently covered the Saudi regime’s repressive tactics, and was particularly critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a self-styled reformer who has arrested rivals and dissidents.

What has Saudi Arabia said about it?

In a statement, the Saudi consulate said it was cooperating with Turkish authorities to “uncover the circumstances” of Khashoggi’s “disappearance.”

But Khashoggi’s fiancée contests this account. “If this was true, where is he? … I went to the house and didn’t find him,” she told Reuters. “Where is Jamal?”

The Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, seen on Oct. 3, 2018.
The Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, seen on Oct. 3, 2018.
Ozan Kose—AFP/Getty Images

The State Department said it is “closely following” the case. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Mohammed bin Salman Wednesday, but a readout did not mention Khashoggi.

Calls for clarity

Human rights groups are demanding Saudi Arabia clarify Khashoggi’s whereabouts. The Committee to Protect Journalists called Khashoggi’s disappearance “a cause for alarm.”

“If Saudi authorities surreptitiously detained Khashoggi it would be yet another escalation of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s reign of repression against peaceful dissidents and critics,” Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement. “The burden of proof is on Saudi Arabia to produce evidence for its claim that Khashoggi left the consulate alone, and that Saudi agents have not detained him.”

Source – TIME

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