Jamal Khashoggi: Chilling column by slain dissident journalist published by Washington Post - as police seen removing bags of evidence from Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Patrick Grafton-Green
Turkish forensic police officers leave after gathering evidence at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul: AFP/Getty Images

A chilling column written by journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been published by the Washington Post as police were seen removing evidence from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he is thought to have died.

Mr Khashoggi’s assistant sent the article, titled “What the Arab world needs most is free expression” the day after he was reported missing after walking into the Gulf kingdom’s consulate on October 2.

Karen Attiah, the Post's global opinions editor, said the column was not published immediately "because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together".

She added: "Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post."

Jamal Khashoggi is said to have died within two hours of entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (REUTERS)

She said his column “perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world”.

Mr Khashoggi, who was based in the United States, is said to have died within two hours of going into the building earlier this month to pick up documents so he could marry his Turkish fiancée.

In the column, he wrote that Tunisia is the only truly “free” Arab country and that most people in the Arab world "are either uninformed or misinformed", limiting their ability to stand up to power.

Turkish forensic police pack up after searching the Saudi Arabian consulate (Getty Images)

He also referenced his "dear friend" Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi who is serving a five-year prison sentence for "supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment".

He called for a “platform of Arab voices… isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda."

It came as Turkish police searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul overnight as part of a probe into his disappearance.

A Turkish forensic police officer carries evidence packs while he leaves the Saudi consulate (AFP/Getty Images)

Images show forensic police officers leaving the consulate carrying evidence in paper bags before loading them into a van.

Turkish officials believe Mr Khashoggi, who was critical of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the consulate and his body removed.

The Saudis have denied the allegations.

A CCTV still of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 (Hurriyet/AP)

US president Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was waiting for a full report on what had happened to Mr Khashoggi from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr Pompeo has been sent to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to meet officials.

Mr Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old crown prince, said the US has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence.

Turkish officials reportedly have an audio recording indicating Mr Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

Turkey's pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak published on Wednesday what it said were details from audio recordings that appeared to document his torture and interrogation.

The newspaper said Mr Khashoggi was killed within minutes and his torturers severed his fingers during the interrogation. His killers later beheaded and dismembered him, it said.