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Saudi Arabia says unnamed citizen extradited after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi 'vanishes' in Turkey Open in fullscreen

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Saudi Arabia says unnamed citizen extradited after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi 'vanishes' in Turkey

Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in September last year after authorities banned him from writing [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 October, 2018

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Turkish police have opened an investigation into the disappearance of a Saudi dissident journalist, who vanished after visiting the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish police have opened an investigation into the disappearance of a Saudi dissident journalist, who vanished after visiting the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul for routine paperwork.

Security forces in the Turkish city entered the Saudi consulate to search for Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday, Al-Jazeera reported.

"Police entered the consulate building in the Besiktas area but failed to find him," the report said, citing the outlet's local correspondent.

"Police inspected footage taken by surveillance cameras, showing that Khashoggi left the building 20 minutes after entering," it said, adding that the journalist "had likely been kidnapped".

Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency reported  on Tuesday that an unnamed Saudi national was arrested and extradited to the kingdom by its Interpol agency.

The statement said he was wanted for "cashing cheques without credit", without elaborating on the location of the arrest. 

It is not clear who the statement is referring to, but its timing is curious. 

According to a BBC investigation, several prominent Saudis critical of the government have been abducted in Europe and flown back to Saudi Arabia in recent years.

Khashoggi's fiancee told Al-Jazeera that she has been in direct contact with the office of the Turkish presidency and has received assurances that an investigation will be carried out into the disappearance.

She said Khashoggi disappeared on Tuesday afternoon after visiting the consulate to conduct paperwork.

"He went there a week ago but consulate staff asked him to come back in a few days," she said.

Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in September last year after authorities banned him from writing in response to his criticism of the kingdom's rulers.

Since then he has been in self-imposed exile in the United States, writing for The Washington Post.

In statement on Tuesday, the Turkish Arab Media Association said it was "concerned" for Khashoggi, and urged Riyadh to comment on Khashoggi's disappearance.

At least 11 journalists are currently detained in Saudi Arabia, according to the CPJ and RSF.

Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on an RSF World Press Freedom Index, has promoted a modernisation campaign since the 2017 appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as heir to the throne.

But the ultraconservative kingdom, which won plaudits in June for lifting a ban on women driving, has drawn heavy criticism for its treatment of dissent and bin Salman has presided over one of the worst crackdowns on journalists, clerics and activists, some of whom face the death penalty for trumped up charges of terrorism. 

In recent months, Saudi authorities have scores of women's rights, opposition activists and clerics.

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