(Image source from: Yahoo)
President Donald Trump has expressed concern over the occurrence of noted Saudi journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this week.
"I am concerned. I don't like hearing about it. Hopefully, that will sort itself out," Trump told reporters at the White House.
"Right now, nobody knows anything about it. There are some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it."
Khashoggi, the resident of the United States, has written articles over the past year critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On the eve of his planned marriage to a Turkish woman, he entered the consulate on October 2 and has not been seen since.
Turkish officials have said he was murdered inside the building. Riyadh contradicts that and asserts he left the compound on his own.
The U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as well waded into the controversy over the disappeared Saudi, saying "the free world deserves answers".
Deeply troubled to hear reports about Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If true, this is a tragic day. Violence against journalists across the globe is a threat to freedom of the press & human rights. The free world deserves answers.— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 8, 2018
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a complete and open investigation by Saudi Arabia.
"We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation," Pompeo said in a statement.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Riyadh must provide "honest answers" about the journalist.
"We agree that if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the U.S.-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid - economically and otherwise," Graham tweeted.
"Our country's values should be and must be a cornerstone of our foreign policy with foes and allies alike," he said.
The U.S.-based political analyst Bill Schneider told Al Jazeera the chorus of comments by American officials indicates the level concern over the journalist's fate, and how it could affect the close relationship between Trump and Saudi leaders.
"They're under pressure from members of Congress and the press. Members of Congress are talking about an investigation… The result is there is pressure domestically to look into this matter," said Schneider.
He was last seen by his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, entering the consulate to get a document needed for their marriage. She and Turkish officials say he never emerged, even though Saudi Arabia insists he left the building.
Turkish authorities have said they believe Khashoggi was most likely killed inside the consulate building and his body later removed from the premises, though they have not provided any evidence.
The Washington Post also pressured the administration to investigate.