Washington Post publishes blank column after the paper's Saudi journalist goes missing

Washington Post publishes blank column after the paper's Saudi journalist goes missing

Washington Post publishes blank column after the paper's Saudi journalist goes missing

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised his relationship with Donald Trump after the U.S. president told supporters he had warned the king he would not last in power "for two weeks" without U.S. military backing.

"If returned to Saudi Arabia, Jamal Khashoggi would be in serious danger given the pattern of flagrantly unfair trials that have been leading to long prison sentences and even the death penalty", Maalouf said in a statement on Friday.

The Washington Post has published a blank column in its Friday's print edition and a blank page on its website to highlight the disappearance of one of its regular writers, Jamal Khashoggi, as the mystery deepens over the Saudi journalist's whereabouts.

"The government of Saudi Arabia follows up diligently on any reports related to the safety of any of its citizens and will continue to follow up on these reports", Saudi authorities said in a statement to the Associated Press.

Ankara and Riyadh gave contradictory versions of the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance, with Turkish officials saying they believed he was still inside the consulate.

His fiancee - who requested anonymity - told the Post she accompanied him but waited outside and called the police when Khashoggi did not emerge after the consulate closed. "I really like working with him, and we have achieved a lot in the Middle East, especially against extremism, extremist ideologies", he said, mentioning the fight against Daesh forces in the Middle East.Bin Salman also commented on Trump's admonition to OPEC states that $80 a barrel is too high a price for oil.

Turkey has avoided public criticism of Saudi Arabia, a regional economic power due to its oil wealth and home of Islam's two holiest shrines.

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Khashoggi's fiancée refuted Saudi Arabia's claims to Reuters.

The State Department said it was aware of Khashoggi's disappearance and was seeking more information.

"If Saudi authorities surreptitiously detained Khashoggi it would be yet another escalation of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman's reign of repression against peaceful dissidents and critics", Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said. In fact, President Trump chose to visit Saudi Arabia for his maiden global trip as president past year.

Khashoggi has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this Tuesday.

He is well-known for his work interviewing Osama bin Laden, for his stint as deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News between 1999 and 2003, and his role as former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al Arab News Channel.

Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, has accused Trump of orchestrating the oil price rally by imposing sanctions on Tehran and accused its regional archrival Saudi Arabia of bowing to USA pressure.

As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

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