Fiancee of ‘murdered’ journalist Jamal Khashoggi still hopeful he’s alive

The fiancee of a journalist who Turkish police believe was killed and cut to pieces inside a Saudi consulate says she still hasn’t given up hope he’s alive.

Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since October 2, and an investigation is now centering on 15 member Saudi ‘hit squad’ thought to be responsible for his disappearance.

Footage released by Turkish police shows Saudi officials arriving in the country, and also show the journalist arriving at the consulate.

Mr Khashoggi, 59, from Saudi Arabia, has not been seen since he walked into the consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday to secure documents for his forthcoming wedding.

A senior police source told Middle East Eye he was "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces" inside the building.

Saudi officials say he left the consulate after his meeting, but have so far failed to release any CCTV footage to back up their statement.

Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz was waiting for him outside, and became increasingly panicked when he didn’t come out.

She said that when he finished, the couple planned to take her siblings out for dinner and discuss their wedding plans.

Writing in the Washington Post , the newspaper Mr Khashoggi worked for, Ms Cengiz said her fiance had told her that he missed his native Saudi Arabia.

He said missing his homeland caused him "deep pain".

She wrote: "He had been feeling so lonely, but I could see the clouds clearing."

Despite being worried about a wave of arrests in Saudi Arabia, she said, he did not fear anything happening to him on Turkish soil – saying he felt "safe" when he walked in.

But Ms Cengiz wrote: "Although my hope slowly fades away each passing day, I remain confident that Jamal is still alive.

"Perhaps I’m simply trying to hide from the thought that I have lost a great man whose love I had earned."

Turkey’s pro-government newspaper Sabah said on Wednesday it had identified a 15-member intelligence team it said was involved in the disappearance of the prominent Saudi journalist.

Sabah published the names and years of birth of 15 Saudis it said arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on October 2.

Twelve of them arrived early on the Tuesday, based on photos captured at passport control which it published.

The 15 departed at four different times, Sabah reported.

It did not say how it obtained the pictures and data.

The journalist, 59, has lived in exile for several years after criticising the Saudi government.

A Turkish official told Reuters: "The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul.

"We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate."

Mr Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post and was a political commentator for networks including the BBC, has been branded "an amazing man and brilliant journalist" by colleague Shaun King.

Dr Neil Quilliam, an expert at The Royal Institute of International Affairs, said it demonstrates the Saudi crown prince’s intolerance of dissent.

He wrote: "The new Saudi leadership is now intolerant of all dissent – home or abroad.

"US policy has inadvertently given carte blanche to the leadership to act with impunity.

"The kingdom’s international partners have very little leverage over its domestic or foreign policies."

And he continued: "The detention of activists, including high profile clerics, women activists, business leaders, journalists, social media commentators and senior members of the ruling Al Saud family has become commonplace since King Salman appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS), as crown prince in June 2017."

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