Saudi Arabia smuggled disappeared opposition journalist Khashoggi from Turkey: report
Saudi authorities may have smuggled opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi who went missing in Turkey to the kingdom, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar has reported.
Citing an unnamed source in the Gulf, the pro-Hizballah daily said Jamal Khashoggi was smuggled in a white van after leaving the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and taken to an airport.
"The operation was carried out with the collaboration of a Turkish officer," the source was quoted as saying in the report.
The New Arab cannot independently verify the report, but Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkey’s ruling AKP Party, said on Saturday that Khashoggi may have been moved from the consulate using a vehicle with tinted-windows.
Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city on Tuesday to receive an official document for his marriage and has not appeared since.
His Turkish fiancee reported him missing after Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year to avoid possible arrest, did not emerge from the consulate.
Al-Akhbar reported that Khashoggi recently met with the Saudi ambassador to the US, Khalid bin Salman, who assured the journalist he would not be harmed if he returned home.
"What happened with Khashoggi points to him rejecting a reconciliation offer, leading to Riyadh ambushing him," the report claimed.
It added that the Saudi ambassador assured Khashoggi safe return if he "quietly" pledged allegiance to his brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the king, the offer Khashoggi seems to have rejected.
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Mohammed bin Salman addressed Khashoggi's disappearance in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday, denying that he had been extradited.
"We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises… we have nothing to hide," he said.
Khashoggi has been critical of the policies of Prince Mohammed and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.
He went into a self-imposed exile in the US following the ascension of Prince Mohammed, now next in line to the throne to his father, the 82-year-old King Salman.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a fierce crackdown on opponents and critics of his rule.
At least 11 journalists are currently being detained in Saudi Arabia and the kingdom ranks as one of the worst in the world for the media.
Bin Salman has also detained dozens of potential royal and business rivals and held them in Riyadh's Ritz Hotel, including world famous entrepreneur Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
A recent BBC documentary also claimed that three princes were abducted by Saudi authorities from abroad before being hurried back to the kingdom, and have not been heard of since.