Ever since Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who also held a U.S. citizenship since 2017, disappeared last week after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey, there have been more questions than answers. While some reports suggest he had been brutally murdered inside the consulate, the White House has refused to take a stance on the issue.
Addressing the issue for the first time since the journalist’s disappearance, on Monday, President Donald Trump refused to confirm Khashoggi’s murder, although he voiced his concern over the matter.
“I am concerned. I don’t like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out,” Trump told reporters at the White House, CNN reported. “Right now, nobody knows anything about it. There are some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.”
The Department of State also released a statement Monday saying senior government officials have spoken to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the matter.
“We have seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi,” the statement read. “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”
Khashoggi was born on Oct. 13, 1958 in Saudi Arabia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana State University in 1982, after which he worked as a foreign correspondent in several countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria and Sudan, Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency reported.
He served as the media adviser to former Saudi ambassador to London and Washington Prince Turki al-Faisal.
In recent years, Khashoggi had been critical of Saudi’s suppression of the press. In 2011, he criticized Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, as well as supported the Arab Spring uprisings, which were opposed by his country’s leadership.
In 2017, he self-exiled from Saudi Arabia, settled down in Washington D.C. and began contributing for the Washington Post. After his disappearance, the Washington Post printed a blank space in their paper where Khashoggi’s columns used to be published — a move hailed by many as “powerful.”
Khashoggi, who was in Turkey since September, went to the Saudi consulate with his fiancée Hatice Cengiz on Oct.2, to collect some documents required to get married. His fiancée later alleged he entered the consulate but never came out. He has not been seen or heard from since then.
While the journalist’s friends said they thought he was detained and removed to Saudi Arabia, a senior Turkish official told the Middle East Eye that Khashoggi was “brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces.” The official added, “Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country.”
These claims were refuted by Saudi Arabia saying it is still looking for Khashoggi.
According to reports, Khashoggi had told his fiancé to call Yasin Aktay, a former member of parliament for Turkey’s ruling AK party and an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, if he did not return from the consulate.
“We could determine his entrance but not any exit. That’s confirmed. We asked them [the Saudis], they say ‘he left,’ but there is no such thing on the camera footage,” Aktay said. “That’s underestimating Turkey. They are wrong if they think Turkey is as it was in the 90s. The consulate should make a clear statement.”
The Turkish authorities said they believe at least 15 Saudi citizens, who arrived in Turkey in two private planes on the same day that Khashoggi visited the consulate and left shortly after, were “most certainly involved” in his disappearance.
Although the police were not allowed to search their bags due to diplomatic reasons, they said they were certain the bags did not contain Khashoggi’s remains.
Cengiz said she has faith in Turkish officials to locate her fiancé. “Four days after my fiancé disappeared and I remain @JKhashoggi confident that my dear government will help me to know his fate and bring joy to my heart. Your prayers for me, I need it because I’m in a very difficult time,” read a translated version of her tweet.