October 6, 2018

Just a horrifying but not entirely unexpected outcome to a sad, sad story.

The Saudi national journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since Tuesday, when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain a document relating to his upcoming wedding.

Khashoggi's fiancee did not go with him, and was warned by Khashoggi, who has contributed to The Washington Post's global news reporting, to go to authorities if he didn't return.

He didn't return.

What happened then is disputed by the Saudi consulate, but Turkish officials have enough confidence to make the announcement:

Turkey has concluded that Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist from Saudi Arabia, was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week by a Saudi team sent “specifically for the murder,” two people with knowledge of the probe said Saturday.

Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia. It was a preplanned murder,” said one of the people. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

They offered no specific evidence to back up the account. Earlier Saturday, however, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said the Istanbul public prosecutor’s office had opened a probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance. Turkish authorities have said that Khashoggi never left the consulate.

Khashoggi's writing had frequently been critical of the Saudi government and the Trump administration. And while the Saudis have been known for quashing dissent by jailing activists and journalists, this murder in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, would be a marked escalation. It could potentially serve as a diplomatic issue between the Sauds and the Turkish government. With any other president, it would undoubtedly be an issue with the US as well, since Khashoggi moved to the US in 2017 for his safety. However, since Trump doesn't care about non-white immigrants in general and critics less so, Turkish authorities surmised that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have felt emboldened to act without fear of reprisal.

Khashoggi's body has not been recovered, and likely never will be.

"The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate," one of the sources, a Turkish official, said.

A senior Turkish police source told MEE that Khashoggi had been "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces. Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country".
Police said about 15 Saudis, including officials, came to Istanbul on two private flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as the journalist. They left again the same day, according to AFP.

Their diplomatic bags could not be opened, a security source told MEE, but Turkish intelligence was sure that Khashoggi's remains were not in them.

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