President Trump stepped up pressure on Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of a prominent dissident journalist who is feared dead after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey, calling it a “very bad situation.”
Mr. Trump fell short on Wednesday of outwardly blaming the Saudis for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post’s global opinions section, but he said “we want to see what’s going on.”
“We cannot let this happen. To reporters, to anybody,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
Mr. Trump’s comments came after Turkish authorities on Wednesday released photographs and other evidence through local media to bolster their claim that Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance and likely death of the dissident writer.
Turkish officials believe Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in his country’s consulate — a claim Saudi officials refute. The WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains the implications behind Mr. Khashoggi’s alleged killing. Photo: Getty
The release of the identities of 15 Saudis—some of whom appeared to be linked to security forces—highlights growing impatience in Ankara in resolving a case that could damage relations between the two regional powers. Turkish authorities suspect the men played a role Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents on Oct. 2.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would wait to hear the results of a criminal police investigation before formally naming suspects for the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi government critic who had been living in self-imposed exile in Washington since last year.
Like Mr. Erdogan, Turkish authorities have refrained from commenting publicly on the case but handed the edited video footage and other evidence to local media that reflect their views of what happened, one official said.
Saudi officials have denied playing any role in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance amid growing calls for an explanation from Washington, London and other capitals. Saudi government representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Turkish authorities appear convinced that Saudi Arabia engineered his disappearance and have released accounts to Turkish media that allege 15 Saudi officials and intelligence officers flew into Istanbul from Riyadh on two jets on the day Mr. Khashoggi went missing.
Turkish newspapers close to Mr. Erdogan on Wednesday released the names and photographs of the alleged officials and officers. Pro-government Turkish media also released video footage and images from security cameras showing some of the individuals at Atatürk airport, checking into hotels near the Saudi consulate in the business district of Levent, and going into the diplomatic compound.
Turkish officials have said the men left on the same two jets later that day. Turkish officials say police have concluded the men killed Mr. Khashoggi inside the consulate or spirited him away from Turkey, alive or dead.
The names and images of several of the individuals identified by the Turkish newspapers Takvim and Sabah appear to correspond to people linked to Saudi Arabia’s security forces, according to photos and other information on social-media profiles and reports published in Saudi media prior to the journalist’s disappearance and viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Among them is Meshal Saad Albostani, who on his
profile describes himself as a Royal Saudi Air Force officer and graduate of the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
Another is Salah al-Tubaigy, who according to a 2014 report in the Saudi newspaper Sharq al Awsat is described as a forensic expert and lieutenant colonel with the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Public Security. An unverified
account by that name describes Mr. al Tubaigy as a forensics expert and links to the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s website.
Another name on the list, Mohammad Saad al-Zahrani, corresponds to a security guard shown in Saudi state television footage dated April 2017 next to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman and the de facto ruler. Mr. al Zahrani was wearing a Saudi Royal Guard uniform with his nametag.
Those named also include Waleed Abdullah Alsehri and Thaar Ghaleb al Harbi. Mr. Alsehri is identified as a Saudi Air Force major in Saudi press reports in 2016. Mr. Harbi was promoted to the rank of lieutenant by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman and the de facto ruler, for his role in defending the royal family’s Al Salam palace in Jeddah during an attack in October 2017, according to Saudi press reports.
None of them could be reached to comment.
—Vivian Salama contributed to this article.