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Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi ambassador to UK says he is ‘concerned’ about disappearance of journalist in Turkey

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi ambassador to UK says he is ‘concerned’ about disappearance of journalist in Turkey

Saudi Arabia‘s ambassador to the UK has said he is “concerned” about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing last week after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish authorities believe the Washington Post columnist was murdered inside the building but the Saudi Arabian government has denied this, saying he left by a back entrance.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud, the country’s representative to the UK, said he could not offer any information on the disappearance when asked by the BBC.

He said: “We are concerned about our citizen Jamal. There is an ongoing investigation and it would be premature of me to comment until we see the final results of the investigation.”

“No one is overestimating” the severity of the situation, the ambassador added, saying his country had “made it very clear we would like to know what happened”.

Asked when he might have more information on what happened to Mr Khashoggi, he said: “Hopefully soon.”

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, met Prince Mohammed on Tuesday to demand the Saudi government urgently provide further information on Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and co-operate fully with the Turkish investigation.

He also spoke to the Gulf state’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, to make clear that the UK would take it “very seriously” if “extremely concerning” reports of Mr Khashoggi’s murder prove to be correct.

“Friendships depend on shared values,” he said.

Mr Khashoggi was a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s current crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and was living in exile in the US.

He visited the Saudi consulate last Thursday to obtain a document confirming his divorce, and has not been seen since. Turkish authorities believe he was murdered in the building and his body taken away in cars.

Saudi Arabia is under mounting pressure to disclose what it knows about the case.

Earlier this week, Turkish newspaper Sabah published the names and photographs of 15 Saudis who it claimed were involved in a plot to murder Mr Khashoggi inside the consulate.

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The group, which the paper claimed included members of Saudi Arabian special forces, allegedly arrived in Istanbul on two private jets on the day the journalist went missing.

On Thursday, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson froze several business links with the gulf state.

Virgin said it was halting negotiations with Saudi Arabia over investment in space projects, and Sir Richard suspended his links to two tourism projects in the country. 

He said: “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government.”

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