UN investigator denied access to Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

United Nations (UN) Rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, who has been tasked with investigating the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has arrived in the Turkish economic hub of İstanbul to conduct investigations.

Callamard, who is a UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions is, reportedly, to present her report on the murder of Khashoggi to UN’s Human Rights Council towards the end of May.

Khashoggi, a regime critic who had been working as a correspondent for the Washington Post, was killed on October 2 last year by a Saudi hit squad at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish government believes the hit squad was sent from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Callamard, an independent expert appointed by the United Nations, met with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul in Ankara on Monday before travelling to Istanbul. She discussed issues related to the murder with the government officials.

On Tuesday, Callamard went to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to begin the investigation but was prevented from entering the building by Saudi consular officials.

Callamard then went to the İstanbul Courthouse located in the Çağlayan neighbourhood of İstanbul to meet with İstanbul’s Chief Public Prosecutor, İrfan Fidan. The meeting between Callamard and İrfan reportedly lasted for hours, but no explanation was given regarding the meeting.

“To be fair, the request to them has come quite late, so we need to give them a bit more time to process our request,” Callamard said.

When asked what will happen next, Callamard stated that council members would consider, if not debate – at least to some extent – her recommendations.

As to whether they would accept her recommendations and take action remains to be seen. She also pointed out that next steps would depend on various factors, including member states’ willingness to take the issues forward.

She said that encouragement from other actors, such as the media and civil society, could also play a role. “I will work with others to ensure that my recommendations are taken seriously,” Callamard stated.

Turkey has accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of having orchestrated the killing, which Riyadh has denied.

Who is Jamal Khashoggi?

Khashoggi (59) was a prominent Saudi journalist who was often critical of the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He wrote for The Washington Post’s global opinion section. He was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul when he entered it on October 2 to obtain necessary documents to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

On October 2, 2018, Karen Attiah, Khashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post, told CNN: “We’re still hoping for the best but, of course, this news, if true, has us all completely devastated. This is an attack on us as well at The Washington Post.”

On October 19, the Saudi government acknowledged his death, claiming he died during an altercation in the consulate. The Saudis gave conflicting accounts over the three weeks of Khashoggi’s mysterious disappearance.

Jamal Khashoggi’s death captured the world’s attention.

Turkey takes Khashoggi case to international scrutiny

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