Washington Post prints a blank column for Saudi journalist missing in Turkey

The Washington Post printed a blank column in its newspaper on Friday in solidarity with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing in Istanbul on Tuesday while visiting the Saudi Consulate.

The newspaper’s editorial board also called on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure writer Khashoggi “is free and able to continue his work,” the Associated Press said

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old veteran journalist, has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year when Mohammed’s rose to power. 

Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the consulate building in Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon to get documents he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Wednesday that Turkish authorities believed Khashoggi was still in the Consulate, Saudi authorities said he went missing after he left the premises. 

Turkey summoned on Thursday Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Ankara, who denied having knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts.

Turan Kışlakçı, a friend of Khashoggi’s who is head of the Turk-Arab Media Association told reporters on Friday that he believed Khashoggi was either held in the Saudi Consulate or had been taken secretly to a guesthouse.

“We saw him entering the consulate, but did not see him leaving,” Kışlakçı said, noting that police cameras also has no footage showing Khashoggi leaving the consulate. Kışlakçı called Saudi authorities to release footage showing Khashoggi leaving to consulate to prove he was not held there.

“Such regimes cannot handle criticism,” Kışlakçı said. “As they can not stand the mildest, the tiniest criticism, they were uncomfortable with Jamal Khashoggi’s opinion pieces published in the Washington Post in recent months and this regime can attempt such retentions when they are uncomfortable,” he said.

“Jamal is one of the leading proponents of freedom and democratic change throughout the region, and he frequently denounces the harsh tactics deployed by the Saudi authorities against prominent clerics, business owners, female activists and social media figures,” Karen Attiah, the Washington Post’s global opinions editor, said on Wednesday. 

“I ask him from time to time if he is okay, if he is feeling safe. He insists that he feels the need to write, despite the pressures from the Saudi authorities,” she said.