US Calls for "Transparent" Saudi Probe into Journalist’s Disappearance

A man holds a placard reading

President Donald Trump has expressed reservations over calls to withhold further us arms sales to Saudi Arabia as the USA looks into the fate of a Saudi writer missing and feared murdered by his own government.

Turkish pro-government newspaper Sabah said on Wednesday it had identified a 15-member intelligence team it said was involved in the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Worldwide news agencies reported that Turkish officials, who asked not to be identified, stated last Saturday evening that the Saudi journalist was killed by a team that arrived to Istanbul for a definite objective and left on the same day, while Turkish sources reported that those who entered the consulate during the presence of Khashoggi were from the Saudi Arabian security services. "I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to show the same level of sensitivity and CCTV footage from the consulate".

Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate on October 2 for routine paperwork and never emerged, with Turkish press claiming the journalist was either kidnapped or murdered inside the consulate.

Mr Trump also says he has reached out to Mr Khashoggi's fiance, Hatice Cengiz, and invited her to the Oval Office.

Other members included alleged Saudi intelligence officers and special forces troops, Turkish media said.

Cengiz appealed to Trump in an opinion piece for the Washington Post on Tuesday, calling on him to "help shed light on Jamal's disappearance".

Earlier, Saudi Arabia had quashed reports of the pressman's death.

Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation of Khashoggi's fate, while several countries - particularly Turkey, the USA, and the U.K - are pressing the case to be cleared up as soon as possible. Saudi officials maintain he left the consulate shortly after entering, though it has failed to provide evidence to back that up, such as video footage.

Trump said that Khashoggi's fiancée had sent him a letter and may come to the White House soon.

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Groups of men thought to be Saudi are seen entering Turkey via Istanbul airport, checking in at hotels and later leaving the country. The Sabah newspaper, which is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published names and pictures of the Saudi nationals, apparently taken at a passport control station. "Right now, nobody knows anything about it", he said.

Corker said that he had warned the kingdom that its political support in the Senate is "the lowest ever" and that if Saudi officials are responsible for Kashoggi's disappearance, "this would drop it off a cliff".

These were the toughest comments coming out of the Trump administration since the mysterious disappearance of the journalist, who Turkish authorities suspect was abducted and murdered by the Saudis.

Writer Jamal Khashoggi, who had written critically about Prince Mohammed and the kingdom, vanished October 2 while on a trip to the consulate to get paperwork so he could be married to Cengiz.

'We're demanding everything, ' Trump said, asked if his team was seeking information from the Saudis - longtime allies who the Trump administration has hugged closely.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday authorities would search the Saudi consulate, but there have been no details about when such a search would take place.

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