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Turkey, US press Saudis to explain fate of missing journalist

ISTANBUL: Turkey and the United States on Thursday ratcheted up the pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain how a journalist vanished after entering its Istanbul consulate last week, with President Donald Trump declaring he “had to find out what happened”.

The Washington Post, which Khashoggi wrote for, added to the still unresolved mystery by reporting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered an operation to “lure” the critical journalist back home.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan challenged Saudi Arabia to provide CCTV images to back up its account that Khashoggi had left the consulate safely, indicating he did not find the current Saudi explanations sufficient.

“Is it possible there were no camera systems in a consulate, in an embassy?” he asked. “If a bird flew, or a fly or a mosquito appeared, the systems would capture this; they [Saudi Arabia] have the most cutting-edge systems,” he was quoted as saying.

The consulate said CCTV cameras were not working that day and dismissed the murder claims as “baseless”.

The case is also threatening the strong relationship the Trump administration has built with Prince Mohammed, who wants to turn the oil-rich conservative kingdom into a hub for innovation and reform.

The two sides have worked together in confronting Iran despite growing concern over the prince’s campaign against dissidents, which critics say has revealed the true face of his rule.

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