Saudi Arabia / Turkey: Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi extremely worrying in light of continuing repression in Saudi
Responding to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist whose whereabouts remain unknown since he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul this past Tuesday, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said:
“The Saudi authorities must immediately disclose the evidence supporting their claim that Jamal Khashoggi left the consulate last Tuesday, otherwise their claims are utterly baseless and only exacerbate suspicions that they are indeed detaining him in what would amount to an enforced disappearance. If that is indeed the case, they must immediately release him, and the Turkish authorities must ensure he is not forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia.
“Khashoggi went into self-exile in September 2017, amidst an ongoing wave of arrests of human rights defenders, clerics, economists, bloggers – and practically any person daring to criticise the authorities. If returned to Saudi Arabia, Jamal Khashoggi would be in serious danger given the pattern of flagrantly unfair trials that have been leading to long prison sentences and even the death penalty.
“This would not be the first time that a dissident is targeted outside of Saudi Arabia. In May 2017, human rights defender Mohammed al-Otaibi was arrested in Doha airport while en route to Norway, where he had been granted refugee status, and sent to Saudi Arabia by the Qatari authorities. This past January, he was sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh to 14 years of prison following an utterly unfair trial.
“This sends a petrifying signal to peaceful dissidents and critics that they are at risk even outside the country, and that the authorities are targeting them one by one wherever they can do so,” Lynn Maalouf said.
This week, and according to Turkey’s state media reports, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Saudi ambassador to Turkey to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance. A spokesperson for the Turkish president’s office said on 3 October that according to the information they have, Khashoggi is still in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.