Activists rally for release of Saudi writer missing at consulate

Khashoggi, a former government adviser who went into self-imposed exile in the USA a year ago to avoid possible arrest, has been critical of some of the policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.

"In 2019, we will have more than 20 services that will be privatised, a lot of them in water, agriculture, energy and some of it in sports", the prince said in an interview with Bloomberg published today.

"We are holding a spot for Jamal Khashoggi in Friday's newspaper", the Post said in a tweet, which included a photo of the exceptional, empty spot at the centre of the page.

He said Khashoggi had left the building not long after he entered.

Turkey's presidential spokesperson said on Wednesday that Khashoggi remains inside the Saudi consulate, a day after his fiancee reported he had failed to emerge from a meeting in the mission.

Yemeni activist and 2011 victor of the Nobel Peace Prize, Tawakkol Karman, hit out at the Saudi authorities and told AFP that she believed Khashoggi "was kidnapped in this gangster's den that is supposed to be a consulate".

In a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the consulate did not challenge that Khashoggi, 59, had disappeared while on a visit to the diplomatic post.

Separately, the Post's editorial board called on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure writer Jamal Khashoggi "is free and able to continue his work", which included writing columns critical of the upstart royal and the kingdom's policies. It called on Turkey to deepen its investigation into the case.

Demonstrators hold pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

Press freedom watchdogs also raised red flags, while the Washington Post, which has regularly featured Khashoggi's writing since previous year, published a blank space where his column would normally appear.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancée, told Reuters he had been concerned about a crackdown on dissent in the kingdom, but assumed he was safe outside the country. "Saudi Arabia's statements in this direction are far from satisfactory", Turan Kislakci, head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association (TAM), said in a statement to supporters. "As a missing person, he is in danger", she told the frenzy of reporters gathered at the consulate.

"The consulate confirmed that it is carrying out follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance", the SPA said.

The disappearance of a controversial Saudi Arabian journalist now living in the United States if becoming more steeped in mystery. "We don't have information to the contrary", Ibrahim Kalin said.

  • Rogelio Becker