Turkey's President Erdogan raises questions over the Saudi explanation for dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance after entering his country's consulate in Istanbul amid reports that Saudi officials had attempted to lure him back home.

Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London Britain, September 29, 2018.
Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London Britain, September 29, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, sought to lure missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The Washington Post columnist has not been heard from since October 2, when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.

The Washington Post said there are US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

According to some friends of Khashoggi, over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to bin Salman had called Khashoggi to offer him protection and even a high-level job working for the government if he returned to his home country.

The report said Khashoggi was "skeptical" over the offers and told one of his friends that the "Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him".

"He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’" Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.

A citizen of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi served as editor of multiple Saudi newspapers including Arab News and Al Watan.

During his residency in the US, he lived in northern Virginia and was a contributor to The Washington Post.

TRT World's Ahmet Alioglu is front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul with updates.

Erdogan questions Saudi explanation

Turkey cannot remain silent over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper on Thursday, adding Turkey is investigating all aspects of the case.

Erdogan told reporters on a flight back from Hungary that Turkey is worried about Khashoggi's disappearance.

"We are investigating all aspects of the event. It is not possible for us to remain silent regarding such an occurrence, because it is not a common occurrence," he said.

He also questioned assertions by Saudi authorities that the consulate does not have footage of Khashoggi leaving the building as the mission's security cameras only provide live footage and do not record images.

"Is it possible for there to be no camera systems at the Saudi Arabia consulate, where the event took place?," Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet.

Should the US have warned him?

The Washington Post said in the report that the intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi has raised questions about whether the administration of US President Donald Trump should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.

"Intelligence agencies have a ‘duty to warn’ people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to a directive signed in 2015. The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a US citizen. Khashoggi was a US resident," it added.

A former senior intelligence official who did not want to be named told The Washington Post: "Capturing him, which could have been interpreted as arresting him, would not have triggered a duty-to-warn obligation."

"If something in the reported intercept indicated that violence was planned, then, yes, he should have been warned," the official was quoted as saying.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the warning process, declined to comment on whether Khashoggi had been contacted, according to The Washington Post.

Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi, while several countries - particularly Turkey, the US and the UK - have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.

According to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on September 28. After being told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on October 1.

Khashoggi called the consulate and was told "that documents are being prepared" and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on October 2 with Cengiz but was not seen after entering it.

Source: AA