Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since entering Saudi consulate in Istanbul four days ago

Jamal Khashoggi

Turkish prosecutors have begun investigating the disappearance of the prominent Saudi Arabian commentator Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for four days after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported on Saturday.

Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Washington DC for the past year fearing retribution for his critical views on Saudi policies, entered the consulate on Tuesday to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage, according to his fiancee, who waited outside. He has not been heard from since.

Turkish and Saudi officials have offered conflicting accounts of his disappearance. Ankara says there is no evidence that he left the diplomatic mission, while Riyadh says he exited the premises the same day.

Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Friday that the Saudi authorities would allow Turkey to search the kingdoms consulate in Istanbul.

Human rights groups have called on Saudi Arabia to verify Khashoggis whereabouts, and Human Rights Watch called on Turkey to deepen its investigation into the case. If Saudi Arabia had detained Khashoggi without acknowledging it, his detention would constitute an enforced disappearance, the group said.

It was not clear whether prosecutors in Istanbul had launched their investigation on Saturday or earlier, and the prosecutors office was not immediately available for comment.

Khashoggi is a familiar face on political chatshows on Arab satellite television networks and used to advise Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the US and Britain.

In the past year, he has written columns criticising Saudi policies toward Qatar and Canada, the war in Yemen and the Saudi crackdown on dissent in which dozens of people have been detained.

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