Saudi Arabia on Sunday denied reports that prominent Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared this week, was killed at its consulate in Istanbul.
State Saudi news agency SPA quoted an official at the consulate as saying the allegations are “baseless.”
The unnamed official doubted that the allegations about Khashoggi’s killing were made by Turkish officials close to the case.
The official said that a team of Saudi investigators went to Istanbul on Saturday to join inquiries into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The 59-year-old journalist, who is a sharp critic of influential Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, went missing on Tuesday while on a visit to the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul to get paperwork done to marry a Turkish woman.
Late Saturday, a close friend to Khashoggi told dpa that he has been killed inside the consulate.
The friend, who wished to remain anonymous, added that the killing had been confirmed by Turkish police and that his body was cut into pieces. So far, there has been no official corroboration of his account.
Turkey has launched a formal investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.
An advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday called on the Saudi consulate to provide a “clear” statement to explain Khashoggi’s disappearance.
In remarks to broadcaster CNN Turk, Yasin Aktay said that Khashoggi did not leave the consulate building in “normal ways.”
The Turkish police were investigating in all directions and Erdogan was following the case “very closely,” Aktay said.
Khashoggi wrote for The Washington Post, which reported that he was killed in the consulate in Istanbul by a Saudi team sent “specifically for the murder.”
The report, citing anonymous sources, said that Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team came from Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has said Khashoggi had left the premises before he went missing, while Turkey has insisted he was still on the consulate grounds.
In an interview with Bloomberg released on Saturday, the Saudi crown prince said that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and that his country is ready to allow Turkish authorities into the building to search for Khashoggi.
The 33-year-old heir apparent is believed to have championed Saudi Arabia’s bold reforms including the lifting of a decades-old ban on women’s driving.
However, Saudi authorities have recently arrested several leading activists, a clampdown that has raised questions over reforms there and drawn criticism from global rights groups.
Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since last year “over concerns that he would be arrested or prevented from travelling” by Saudi Arabia, The Washington Post said.
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