WASHINGTON: The United States should "demand answers" from Saudi Arabia about the disappearance and alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post said late Sunday -- and punish the kingdom if cooperation is lacking.
Khashoggi, a contributor to the Post who has been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after an appointment with Saudi officials on Tuesday at the consulate in Istanbul.
A Turkish government source has said that police believe the journalist was murdered, a claim denied by Riyadh.
"The United States must now make a concerted effort to determine all the facts about Mr Khashoggi's disappearance," the Post said in an editorial, imploring Washington to "demand answers, loud and clear."
Erdogan says closely following case of missing Saudi journalist
Noting that President Donald Trump has treated Prince Mohammed as a "favored ally," the newspaper said the kingdom now should reciprocate with information about Khashoggi's whereabouts.
"If the crown prince does not respond with full cooperation, Congress must, as a first step, suspend all military cooperation with the kingdom," the Post said.
"We are hoping against hope that Mr Khashoggi is unharmed and will soon return to his writing desk," the Post said.
Khashoggi, 59, is a former government advisor who has criticized some of Prince Mohammed's policies and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen. He has lived in the United States since last year to avoid possible arrest, and has written a series of columns for the Post on Saudi affairs.
Turkey starts investigation into disappearance of Saudi journalist
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he was awaiting the results of an investigation into the disappearance of a Saudi journalist who a government source said was killed at Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to obtain documents needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.
Erdogan said he would wait for the outcome of the current investigation before taking a decision.
"I am following the (issue) and we will inform the world whatever the outcome" of the official probe, the president told reporters in Ankara.
"We hope to have results very quickly," he added. "I am waiting, with high hopes."
He said police were examining CCTV footage of entrances and exits at the consulate and Istanbul airport. Police said earlier that around 15 Saudis, including officials, arrived in Istanbul on two flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.
"Based on their initial findings, the police believe that the journalist was killed by a team especially sent to Istanbul and who left the same day," the government source told AFP on Saturday.
The journalist went to the building but "did not come back out", police were quoted as saying by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.
The consulate rejected the claims that the journalist was killed there as "baseless", in a Twitter message. It said a Saudi team was in Turkey to investigate the disappearance.
The journalist's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter she was "waiting for an official confirmation from the Turkish government" before she could believe the claims.
Khashoggi has been critical of some of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen. His criticisms appeared in both the Arab and Western press.
Saudi source denies journalist Khashoggi was killed at consulate in Istanbul
Prince Mohammed said in an interview published by Bloomberg on Friday that the journalist had left the consulate and Turkish authorities could search the building, which is Saudi sovereign territory.
Turkey's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador over the issue.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Twitter that if reports of his death were confirmed, "this would constitute a horrific, utterly
A European Commission spokesperson said in a statement that Brussels was "closely" following the case, adding it was "awaiting clarifications from the Saudi authorities on the fate of Mr Khashoggi."
Khashoggi fled from Saudi Arabia in September 2017, months after Prince Mohammed was appointed heir to the throne.
The journalist said he had been banned from writing in the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, owned by Saudi prince Khaled bin Sultan al-Saud, over his defence of the Muslim Brotherhood which Riyadh has blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.
He has also criticised Saudi Arabia's role in Yemen, where Riyadh leads a military coalition fighting alongside the government in its war with Iran-backed rebels.
Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on RSF's World Press Freedom Index, has launched a modernisation campaign since Prince Mohammed's appointment as heir to the throne.
The ultra-conservative kingdom in June lifted a ban on women driving, but it has drawn heavy criticism for its handling of dissent.
Dozens of dissidents have been arrested including intellectuals and Islamic preachers.
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