Missing writer Jamal Khashoggi ‘is not here’ Saudi envoy in Istanbul says

Consul General of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Al-Otaibi gives a tour of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. (Reuters)
Updated 06 October 2018
0

Missing writer Jamal Khashoggi ‘is not here’ Saudi envoy in Istanbul says

  • Consul-general Mohammad Al-Otaibi gives journalists a tour of six-storey building
  • Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi left the consulate on Tuesday after completing his paperwork

ISTANBUL: Saudi Arabia's consul in Istanbul opened up his mission on Saturday in an effort to show that Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished four days ago, was not on the premises and said that talk of his kidnapping was baseless.
Reuters journalists toured the six-storey consulate in northern Istanbul which Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist residing in the US, entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. His fiancee, who had waited outside, said he never came out.
Saudi Arabia said he left the consulate on Tuesday after completing his paperwork.
"I would like to confirm that...Jamal is not at the consulate nor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the consulate and the embassy are working to search for him," consul-general Mohammad Al-Otaibi said in an interview at the consulate.
"We are worried about this case."
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg that Saudi authorities would allow Turkey to search the consulate, but Turkish officials have not yet entered the premises.
Al-Otaibi said there were no legal charges against Khashoggi at the consulate, and he gave a tour of the building to Reuters to demonstrate that the missing journalist was not on the premises.
Opening cupboards, filing cabinets and wooden panels covering air conditioning units, Al-Otaibi walked through the six floors of the building including a basement prayer room, offices, visa counters, kitchens and toilets as well as storage and security rooms.
He said the consulate was equipped with cameras but they did not record footage, so no images could be retrieved of Khashoggi entering or leaving the consulate, which is ringed by police barriers and has high security fences topped with barbed wire.
The building has two entrances at the front and back, and Al-Otaibi said Khashoggi could have left from either side.
"If those who say he was kidnapped are focusing on his being in the mission, these are just rumours that have no proof," he said. "And we unfortunately regret some of the statements that have been made by Turkish officials who insist that (Khashoggi is) in the consulate ... without it being built on facts."
The spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party vowed that authorities would uncover the whereabouts of Khashoggi and the details of his disappearance, saying the case was highly sensitive for Turkey.
Al-Otaibi said authorities in the two countries were in contact. "Let us leave some time and a chance for both sides to see results".
The idea that Khashoggi may have been abducted at the consulate was "disgusting", he said. "The idea of kidnapping a Saudi citizen by a diplomatic mission is something that should not be put forward in the media."


Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

Updated 24 min 49 sec ago
0

Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

  • Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks
  • At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database

DHAKA: Pre-immigration facilities provided by Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrims in Bangladesh have helped reduce waiting times by several hours after their arrival at airports in the Kingdom, several of them said on Wednesday.
The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s Road to Makkah initiative, whereby pilgrims can complete immigration at airports in their home country instead of doing it on arrival in the Kingdom.
From this year, Bangladeshi pilgrims are enjoying pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka airport.
“Among the 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims, this year 60,500 of them will have the opportunity to complete the immigration formalities at Dhaka airport,” Bangladeshi Religious Affairs Secretary Anisur Rahman told Arab News.
“From next year, all Bangladeshi pilgrims will enjoy this pre-immigration system at Dhaka airport.”
Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks. Three Saudi organizations are working at Dhaka airport to accomplish these tasks.
At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database.
In addition, at the immigration counter officials take photographs of the pilgrims, Rahman said.
“The pre-immigration system was supposed to be launched from the first Hajj flight on July 4, but due to technical issues we couldn’t do that on the first day. However, things are now running very smoothly,” he added.
Abdul Kayum Bepari, a Bangladeshi pilgrim who completed his Saudi immigration formalities at Dhaka airport, told Arab News: “It’s an amazing experience. All immigration formalities were completed within a minute. When I performed Hajj in 2011, it took more than four hours for me to complete the immigration formalities at the Saudi airport.”
Bangladeshi pilgrim Sadek Ali told Arab News: “Everything is very disciplined. This pre-immigration system has truly eased the hassle of thousands of Bangladeshi pilgrims.”
Pilgrim Bulbuli Begum told Arab News: “My Saudi immigration formalities took only a few seconds to be completed.”
Pre-immigration support for Bangladeshi pilgrims will continue until the last Hajj flight, which is scheduled on Aug. 5.
“We’re trying to ensure maximum support and comfort to the pilgrims,” said a Saudi immigration official at Dhaka airport.
“They don’t even need to worry about luggage. Once the pilgrims land at a Saudi airport, they’ll immediately board hotel-bound buses and will receive their luggage at the hotel.”