Friday, February 22, 2019 | ePaper
UN urges Turkey, Saudi Arabia to investigate journalist disappearance
Reuters, Geneva :
Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
The United Nations human rights office voiced deep concern on Tuesday at the "apparent enforced disappearance" and possible murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi a week ago and urged the two countries to investigate.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday asked Riyadh to prove its claim that Khashoggi had left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, while Washington urged Saudi Arabia to support an investigation into his disappearance.
"Yes, this is of serious concern, the apparent enforced disappearance of Mr Khashoggi from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul," U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing.
"If reports of his death and the extraordinary circumstances leading up to it are true, this is truly shocking," she said.
Khashoggi was previously a prominent newspaper editor in Saudi Arabia and an adviser to a former head of intelligence. His disappearance has sparked global concern, particularly after Turkish sources said over the weekend that authorities believed he had been killed inside the consulate.
"We call for cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and to make the findings public," Shamdasani said. The two countries have such an obligation under both criminal law and international human rights law, she said.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump expressed concern Monday about the fate of prominent Saudi journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.
"I am concerned. I don't like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out," Trump told reporters at the White House.
"Right now, nobody knows anything about it. There are some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it."
Khashoggi, a US resident, has written articles over the past year critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On the eve of his planned marriage to a Turkish woman, entered the consulate Tuesday and has not been seen since.
Turkish officials have said he was murdered inside the consulate. Riyadh denies that and claims he left the compound on his own.
The issue threatens to strain the close relationship Prince Mohammed has forged with the Trump administration, which until now has been willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi human rights violations and its bombing campaign against Yemen's Houthi rebels, which has killed thousands of civilians.
Trump has instead focused on US and Saudi shared interests in ratcheting up pressure on Iran.
But two senior senators of Trump's Republican party warned Monday that the relationship could be imperiled if the stories about Khashoggi are correct.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Riyadh must provide "honest answers" about the journalist.
"We agree that if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the US-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid-economically and otherwise," Graham tweeted.
"Our country's values should be and must be a cornerstone of our foreign policy with foes and allies alike," he said.
Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned against governments attacking journalists outside their countries.
"I have raised Jamal's disappearance personally with the Saudi ambassador, and while we await more information, know we will respond accordingly to any state that targets journalists abroad," he wrote.