Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his G7 counterparts have said they are “very troubled” by the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and insist those responsible must be held to account.
The Washington Post columnist, who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was reportedly killed while visiting the Gulf kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Riyadh is a key ally for the West and US President Donald Trump has said it is being treated as “guilty until proven innocent”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Turkey for talks following a meeting with the Saudi king and the crown prince on Tuesday.
In the statement, the G7 foreign ministers said: “We, the G7 foreign ministers, of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, affirm our commitment to defending freedom of expression and protection of a free press.
“We remain very troubled by the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.
“We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced.”
Turkish officials have said police searching the Saudi consulate have found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there.
Trump has suggested that “rogue killers” could have been involved in the case but such a move without sanction from the Saudi regime is believed to be highly unlikely by many.
Details of an alleged audio recording of the killing have been set out in a Turkish newspaper, Yeni Safak, with strong ties to the Turkish government.
It said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi was heard telling the alleged torturers to “do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble”.
Hunt has said previously that questions remain about the case that only Saudi Arabia can answer.
Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the US and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before he vanished.
He visited the consulate on October 2 to obtain a document confirming he had divorced his ex-wife, in order to allow him to remarry.
Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville