A journalist holding a poster of missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, speaks to camera near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul. (AP)
The Washington Post has released what appears to be the last-known photograph of Jamal Khashoggi, walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul from which he apparently never left.
The image bears a date and date stamp saying it was taken on 2 October, when the Posts columnist and Saudi government critic entered his countrys consulate to obtain divorce papers.
Turkish authorities have told Middle East Eye they believe Khashoggi was killed soon after entering the building.
The image was given to the Post by someone close to the Turkish investigation, and released by the US daily soon after Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan challenged the Saudis to prove he left the consulate unharmed.
Riyadh has denied Khashoggi was killed or detained on its Istanbul premises, and claims that the veteran journalist left the consulate shortly after entering.
The Saudis have offered no evidence that he did.
"Mere words are not enough evidence" to dispute the allegations that Khashoggi had been killed, Erdogan said on Monday.
“We have to get an outcome from this investigation as soon as possible. The consulate officials cannot save themselves by simply saying 'he has left,'" the Turkish president added.
"We have been working on it since they came to us, our intelligence and police department have been working on it. Our aim is to reach a conclusion. We look at the media and see various reports that make us think about it. We have to get a conclusion as soon as possible."
As Khashoggis disappearance drags on, more countries have been moved to comment on the case.
The Washington Post said on Sunday that the US should “demand answers” from its close allies the Saudis, and after a long, much-criticised period of silence, the White House responded to the allegations on Monday.
I dont like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it
– Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump said he was “concerned” about the reports of Khashoggis murder.
“I dont like hearing about it,” Trump said. “Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded on Monday too, issuing a statement urging "the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation".
Yes “concern” is weak. But given this Admins inattention to human rights & total support for MBS, this statement + POTUS + Pence are equivalent to a loud shout. Note this statement also includes a specific ask: a thorough investigation (not necessarily by KSA) & transparency. https://t.co/VeZFfpZuNP
— Tamara Cofman Wittes (@tcwittes) October 9, 2018
Canada, which is embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Riyadh over concern it expressed over Saudi Arabia's crackdown on women's rights activists, expressed concern over Khashoggi's disappearance on Sunday.
"We are aware of and concerned by these reports. Canadian officials are actively seeking more information," a spokesperson for the Canadian foreign minister said.
Doors of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. (AP)
Turkish sources have told MEE that they have requested Saudi permission to thoroughly search the consulate, and have a forensics team poised to carry out an investigation.
According to a senior Turkish police source, police believe that Khashoggi was "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces".
"Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country," the police source told MEE.
MEE has been told that Turkish police believe 15 Saudis who travelled to Istanbul on 2 October in two private jets are behind the alleged murder.
The 15 Saudis were in the consulate when Khashoggi arrived, Turkish sources said, and left the same day.