Turkish authorities believe that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared five days ago after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, was killed inside the consulate.

Iran Press/Middle East: “The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one Turkish official told Reuters.

The sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out. 

Khashoggi entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. His fiancee, who had waited outside, said he never came out.

Related news: Turkey summons Saudi AMB over missing writer

Since then, Turkish and Saudi officials have offered conflicting accounts of his disappearance, with Ankara saying there was no evidence that he had left the diplomatic mission and Riyadh saying he exited the premises the same day.

Earlier on Saturday Turkish officials said prosecutors had begun investigating Khashoggi’s disappearance and a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party said authorities would uncover his whereabouts.

Saudi Arabia’s consul in Istanbul opened up his mission on Saturday in an effort to show that Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished five days ago, was not on the premises and said that talk of his kidnapping was baseless.

“I would like to confirm that...Jamal is not at the consulate nor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the consulate and the embassy are working to search for him,” consul-general Mohammad al-Otaibi said Reuters in an interview at the consulate.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg earlier this week that Saudi authorities would allow Turkey to search the consulate, but Turkish officials have not yet entered the premises.

Otaibi said there were no legal charges against Khashoggi at the consulate, and he gave a tour of the building to Reuters to demonstrate that the missing journalist was not on the premises.

Consul General of Saudi Arabia Mohammad al-Otaibi answers questions during an interview with Reuters at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, October 6, 2018. REUTERS

Consulate cameras did not record footage!

Opening cupboards, filing cabinets and wooden panels covering air conditioning units, Otaibi walked through the six floors of the building including a basement prayer room, offices, visa counters, kitchens and toilets as well as storage and security rooms.

He said the consulate was equipped with cameras but they did not record footage, so no images could be retrieved of Khashoggi entering or leaving the consulate, which is ringed by police barriers and has high security fences topped with barbed wire.

The building has two entrances at the front and back, and Otaibi said Khashoggi could have left from either side.

“If those who say he was kidnapped are focusing on his being in the mission, these are just rumors that have no proof,” he said. “And we unfortunately regret some of the statements that have been made by Turkish officials who insist that (Khashoggi is) in the consulate ... without it being built on facts.”

Otaibi said authorities in the two countries were in contact. “Let us leave some time and a chance for both sides to see results”.

The idea that Khashoggi may have been abducted at the consulate was “disgusting”, he said. “The idea of kidnapping a Saudi citizen by a diplomatic mission is something that should not be put forward in the media.”

Khashoggi had lived in self-imposed exile in Washington for the past year, saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policies.

Human rights groups have called on Saudi Arabia to verify his whereabouts. Human Rights Watch said if Saudi Arabia had detained Khashoggi without acknowledging it, his detention would constitute an enforced disappearance.

Khashoggi is a familiar face on political talk shows on Arab satellite television networks and used to advise Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States and Britain.

Over the past year he has written columns for newspapers including the Washington Post, criticizing Saudi policies toward Qatar and Canada, the war in Yemen and a crackdown on dissent which has seen dozens of people detained.

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Consul General of Saudi Arabia Mohammad al-Otaibi answers questions during an interview with Reuters at Saudi Arabia