JEDDAH: Turkish authorities can search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul for journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been reported missing after visiting the diplomatic mission three days ago, Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said.
"We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises. The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do. If they ask for that, of course, we will allow them. We have nothing to hide," Prince Mohammed said in an interview released by Bloomberg on Friday.
Earlier reports said Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen residing in the US, visited the consulate in Istanbul earlier this week to secure divorce documents so that he could marry his Turkish fiancee. His fiancee and a friend have been quoted as saying he never came out after that.
The crown prince said his understanding is that Khashoggi entered the diplomatic mission and got out after an hour.
"I’m not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time," he said.
In the wide-ranging interview, he was asked about Saudi Arabia's diplomatic row with Canada, which has seen the Kingdom expelling Ottawa's ambassador, stopping new trade, and pulling out Saudi scholarship students from Canada.
Prince Mohammed said the rift was sparked by the Canadian government's attempt to order Saudi Arabia to release a number of detainees facing charges of spying for a foreign country.
He said the case of the detainees has nothing to do with press freedom or women's rights.
"It had nothing to do with that rumor spreading around. They have connections with agencies of other countries. They have a network, connection with government people, leaking information for the sake these other governments," he said.
He said the Saudi government has videos of the suspects talking with foreign secret service. "We can show it to you. Tomorrow we will show you the videos," he told Bloomberg.
Pressed for further details, Prince Mohammed said: "Qatar is one of those countries that recruited some of those people. And some agencies indirectly working with Iran. Those are the two main countries that were really recruiting these people."
"Some of the people on this list, they were part of that but they didn’t know that they were part of an intelligence operation, we’ve released them. But the other people, the evidence and the investigations proved that they did know it was intelligence work against Saudi Arabia," he added.