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
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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."


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 19 July 2019
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.