As the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul remains a mystery, pressure for answers from Saudi Arabia is growing in the United States.
Even President Trump, a close ally of Riyadh, has expressed concern for the missing Saudi Washington columnist who had been critical of his home country’s rulers.
Turkish officials have told several media outlets they believe that Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate. Turkish sources have provided CCTV footage of 15 Saudi inidividuals that they arrived to Istanbul on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, accusing them of involvement in his killing.
Saudi Arabia insists that the journalist left the consulate shortly after arriving.
“My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour,” Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with Bloomberg published on Oct. 5. “I’m not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time.”
However, Saudi authorities have not produced any evidence to back their story. People skeptical of the Saudi account say the kingdom can exonerate itself by simply showing surveillance footage of Khashoggi leaving the building.
On Wednesday, US senators called on Trump to formally investigate the incident and impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia within 120 days.
“The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights,” the letter, signed by 26 senators, says.
Rights groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), have also demanded answers from Saudi Arabia.
“CPJ is alarmed by media reports that Jamal Khashoggi may have been killed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “The Saudi authorities must immediately give a full and credible accounting of what happened to Khashoggi inside its diplomatic mission. The country has stepped up its repression of critical journalists in the past year at home. We hope this has not now spread abroad.”