Khashoggi, one of the most prominent Saudi critics of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and a regular contributor to The Washington Post, disappeared earlier this month in Istanbul after visiting the Saudi consulate to obtain necessary paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancee. Over the weekend, Turkish authorities said they had “concrete proof” that Khashoggi was held in the embassy, where he was tortured and murdered by a 15-person Saudi team. Khashoggi’s body was then removed from the embassy, according to reports, possibly in pieces; the Saudi team returned to Riyadh last week. “If true, this is a horrific crime, the assassination of a journalist in his own country’s consulate on foreign soil —something without precedent in modern times,” The Washington Post wrote on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia has strongly denied playing a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance, going as far as to open cupboards in its consulate to show journalists that he was not being held against his will. Saudi authorities said they were “very keen to know what happened to” Khashoggi and that he had visited the consulate for a short time before leaving.
Relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been strained for decades, though they’ve recently taken a turn for the worse, thanks in large part to tensions over Syria, where Turkey has worked with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran. In March, Bin Salman said that “the contemporary triangle of evil comprises Iran, Turkey and extremist religious groups.” If the Saudis were involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance, it would also be a slap in the face of the United States, which has welcomed Bin Salman as a reformer.