October 16, 2018 02:06 PM
ISTANBUL (AP) - The Latest on the disappearance of a Saudi writer who Turkish officials fear was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul (all times local):
Turkey's state-run news agency says the Saudi consul to Istanbul has left for Saudi Arabia, hours after Turkey said his official residence would be searched in connection with a Saudi writer's disappearance.
The Anadolu news agency reported Tuesday that Consul Mohammed al-Otaibi flew out of the country on a 2 p.m. flight.
Saudi Arabia had no immediate comment on his departure.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry says police will search his official residence and vehicles belonging to the consulate. Authorities have offered no timeframe for those searches.
Turkish forensic teams finished a search of the Saudi Consulate early Tuesday, two weeks after Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi vanished. Turkish officials fear Saudi agents killed him in the consulate and disposed of his body.
Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but U.S. media reports suggest the Saudis may acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a U.S.-based journalist "murdered" in the Saudi consulate in Turkey and has "tainted" his country as a result.
The influential Republican and ally of President Donald Trump says the crown prince "has got to go." Graham says he will not return to Saudi Arabia while the prince is in power.
Graham says he has been the "biggest defender" of the kingdom, but that he now plans to "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia."
The senator spoke Tuesday on "Fox & Friends." He cited published reports that Prince Mohammed had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, and that an intelligence official who was a friend of the crown prince had killed the journalist.
Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Turkey has said it fears Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team. Saudi Arabia has denied that, but published reports have said the kingdom may be preparing to acknowledge killing the journalist during an interrogation gone wrong.
A high-level Turkish official says police have found "certain evidence" during their search of the Saudi Consulate showing that Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed there.
The official did not provide details on the evidence that was recovered during the hourslong search at the diplomatic mission that ended early Tuesday.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but U.S. media reports suggest the Saudis may soon acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
- Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey
Turkey’s foreign minister says consulates shouldn’t be places where people are interrogated.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia hadn’t offered any confession to Turkey over its alleged involvement in the disappearance and feared slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Asked about a New York Times report that Saudi Arabia might say Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone wrong, the minister said: “We have not received such information.”
He added: “Consulates aren’t places to hold interrogations. Interrogations should take place in courts, (by) judiciary authorities.”
The minister also confirmed that Turkish authorities would search the Saudi consul’s residence in Istanbul and vehicles belonging to the consulate. He offered no timeframe for those searches.
Turkish forensic teams finished a search of the Saudi Consulate early Tuesday, two weeks after Khashoggi vanished. It was not clear if any significant evidence has been found.
Updated: October 16, 2018 02:06 PM
Created: October 16, 2018 09:49 AM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)