Saudi journalist disappears in Istanbul

Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé anxiously awaits news after his disappearance following entry into consulate building in Istanbul.

ISTANBUL - The Turkish fiancee of a veteran Saudi journalist who has been critical of the Riyadh government was anxiously waiting for news Wednesday after his disappearance.

Jamal Khashoggi, who writes opinion pieces for the Washington Post, has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on Tuesday where he was to receive an official document for the couple's marriage.

"I haven't received any news from him since 1 pm (1000 GMT) on Tuesday," 36-year-old Hatice said outside the consulate, which was sealed off by barricades.

She said Khashoggi had left his mobile phone with her.

"We want to know his whereabouts. Where is Jamal?" Hatice said, constantly looking at her phone, as journalists from local and international media also waited outside the consulate.

Khashoggi, a former government adviser who went into self-imposed exile in the United States last year to avoid possible arrest, has been critical of some of the policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.

"We want him to come out of the consulate safe and sound," Hatice, who declined to give her family name, said. "The same way as he came to Turkey."

'Very concerned'

The Washington Post's international opinions editor Eli Lopez said in a statement on Tuesday that the newspaper was "very concerned" about Khashoggi.

"We are monitoring the situation closely, trying to gather more information. It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist and commentator."

The US State Department said it was investigating the matter.

Hatice appealed to the Turkish government to use all diplomatic channels to find her fiance. "It is a problematic country," she said, referring to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has embarked on a modernisation campaign since the 2017 appointment of Prince Mohammed as heir to the throne.

But the ultra-conservative kingdom, which won plaudits in June for finally lifting a ban on women driving, has drawn heavy criticism for its handling of dissent.

"He is a well-known writer, an internationally recognised writer not only in the United States but in Germany, Britain and the European Union," said Hatice.

Khashoggi once said that before he left the kingdom, the Saudi government banned him from Twitter "when I cautioned against an overly enthusiastic embrace of then-president-elect Donald Trump".