He was, however, increasingly worried about an unprecedented wave of arrests in his country. Yet Jamal did not think the Saudis could force him to stay at the consulate in Turkey, even if they wanted to arrest him. In other words, he did not mind walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul because he did not believe that something bad could happen on Turkish soil. It would be a violation of international law to harm, arrest or detain people at a diplomatic mission, he said, and noted that no such thing had ever happened in Turkey’s history. After a positive first meeting with consular staff, who welcomed him warmly and assured him that the necessary paperwork would come through, Jamal was hardly concerned ahead of his second visit. He walked into the consulate of Saudi Arabia, his native country, without doubting he would be safe there.
After seeing how relaxed he was, I waited patiently and full of hope. But after three hours I was overcome with fear and concern. I texted a few friends to inform them, and I asked about Jamal at the consular building. I received an answer that further fueled my fears: Jamal had already left, they told me, possibly without my noticing. Trying to stay calm, I immediately called Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and one of Jamal’s oldest friends. Since the incident came to the attention of the press and law enforcement, I have been waiting fearfully.
This much is true: He entered the consulate, and there’s no proof that he came out.