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UK rights groups call on Saudi to reveal Khashoggi whereabouts

Activists gathered outside the Saudi embassy in London to demand answers

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) held a press conference outside the Saudi Embassy in London yesterday calling on the Saudi government to reveal the whereabouts of disappeared journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"We are gathered here today outside the Saudi embassy to talk about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, in what is a truly disturbing tale of a campaigner, a writer, an author being apparently stanched off the streets of Turkey," barrister Rhys Davies told MEMO.

Barrister Sian Reeves explained that the disappearance of Khashoggi is "symptomatic of a broader issue which is the Saudi Arabian authorities detaining people who it perceives to dissent to its autocratic rule."

One of Saudi Arabia's most outspoken critics, Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday for an appointment to collect official documents. In an interview with Arabi21, his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz said Khashoggi had entered the consulate at 13:00 local time and never left.

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"This is an attempt by the Saudi government to crush criticism of them by people external and internal to the regime," barrister Ben Keith, who specialises in international criminal and extradition law, added.

In a statement, AOHR UK stressed that the abduction of citizens by exploiting diplomatic immunity is an illegal act that the Turkish government can confront using all legal and diplomatic means. "Indeed, of utmost importance, the Turkish government must prevent Khashoggi's exit from Turkish land at all border crossings."

Khashoggi had previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki Al Faisal while he was Saudi ambassador to the United States. He has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.

On Saturday, Khashoggi spoke at a MEMO conference which marked 25 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords.

This is not the first time an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime has disappeared. Prince Sultan Bin Turki went missing after boarding plane in Paris ostensibly bound for Cairo in 2016. Journalist Hugh Miles reported that over a period of two years, three princes have gone missing after criticising the Al Saud government.

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