Saudi-Turkish team begins search of consulate over missing journalist

Saudi-Turkish team begins search of consulate over missing journalist
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A joint team of Saudi and Turkish investigators on Monday began their search of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing almost two weeks ago. 

It is unclear what the investigation will involve. Turkish authorities claim Khashoggi was murdered by a team of 15 Saudi agents in the consulate on Oct. 2, an account that Saudi Arabia has denied. 

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The Saudis agreed to cooperate with the investigation, saying it would not yield any condemnatory evidence.

A cleaning crew with mops and trash bags entered the consulate earlier on Monday morning, The Associated Press reported. The Saudi-Turkish team arrived transported in a police vehicle and did not speak to journalists outside of the building, multiple outlets reported.

It is unclear if forensics will play a role in the search, according to the AP.

Turkish reports have indicated Saudi agents were likely working on orders from Riyadh when they allegedly dismembered and killed Khashoggi. Turkey has said they have video and audio evidence of the murder. 

Khashoggi was a Washington Post opinion columnist of Saudi origin who sometimes wrote critically of the Saudi government. U.S. intelligence has indicated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was plotting to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia in order to detain him.              

France, Germany and the U.K. on Sunday issued a joint statement calling for a "credible" probe into Khashoggi's disappearance. The countries said they support the Turkish-Saudi investigation, adding they "expect the Saudi government to provide a complete and detailed response." 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE on Monday morning suggested that "rogue killers" could have been behind Khashoggi's disappearance, noting Saudi King Salman had denied involvement. 

He said King Salman's denial "was very, very strong."

Fifteen Saudi agents reportedly entered Turkey before Khashoggi arrived at the consulate and left the country after he disappeared.

Trump during an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday threatened "severe punishment" if the investigation concludes that Saudi Arabia was involved in Khashoggi's murder. The Washington Post columnist was a resident of Virginia. 

Saudi Arabia responded with a statement threatening "greater action" in retaliation to any possible sanctions.