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Prominent Saudi Critic, Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Missing after Entering Consulate in Istanbul

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As part of Saudi Arabia’s continued censorship, Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, disappeared after visiting his country’s consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday, his fiancée reported.

“He entered at 1pm [11am BST] and hasn’t surfaced since then. I have no media statements to make at this point, but I have contacted Turkish authorities for help,” Khashoggi’s fiancée, who did not want to be identified by name, told Middle East Eye by phone.

According to her, Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, but was asked to return on Tuesday to complete an application related to family matters, according to a journalist at Arabi21 news website.

The fiancée, who is a Turkish citizen, said he entered the consulate’s Saudi nationals section, while she waited for him at the foreigners’ hall for several hours until the consulate closed. The consulate's hours of operation are 9am to 3pm.

Turkish and Saudi authorities, including the Istanbul consulate and the Saudi Embassy in Washington, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, according to a Reuters report.

Khashoggi, 59, is a former editor-in-chief of Saudi newspapers al-Arab and Watan. He previously served as the media advisor to Prince Turki al-Faisal during his tenure as ambassador in London and Washington.

Khashoggi is considered a Saudi nationalist, and before leaving Saudi Arabia in September 2017, he was seen as close to the royal court.

However, friction between him and the kingdom’s rulers began to emerge after comments at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, warning that Saudi Arabia should be “rightfully nervous about a Trump presidency”.

Authorities informed him that he was banned from writing and tweeting soon after. Worried by the actions, Khashoggi decided to leave the country.

Since then, he has primarily been living in the US capital, writing for the Washington Post. His columns include criticizing Saudi Arabia’s policies towards Qatar and Canada, the war in Yemen, and a crackdown on the media and activists.

Last year, Saudi authorities also reportedly held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and put him under house arrest. Both Hariri and Riyadh denied the reports, but European officials, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have confirmed that the prime minister was detained by the Saudis.

While bin Salman has led a modernization campaign to counter the kingdom's image as an ultraconservative society with a repressive government, rights groups say the crackdown against human rights activists has escalated.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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