Saudi Arabia's UK ambassador has told the BBC he is "concerned" about missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud added it would be "premature" to comment on the issue at present. Mr Khashoggi, a well-known critic of the Saudi government, has not been seen since visiting the country's consulate in Istanbul last week. Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson has said he has halted investing in Saudi Arabia over Mr Khashoggi's disappearance. Mr Khashoggi's fiancée fears he has been kidnapped or killed while Turkish authorities in Istanbul believe he was murdered by Saudi agents.
From the first days following Khashoggi's disappearance after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul more than three weeks ago, Middle Eastern governments have had to balance how to remain in Riyadh's good graces while an inexorable drip-line of leaks by Turkish officials pointed to a cruel killing and dismemberment of a onetime insider turned critic.
The shifting explanations indicate Saudi Arabia is scrambling for a way out of the crisis that has enveloped the world's largest oil exporter and a major U.S. ally in the Middle East. But a solution seems a long way off, partly because of deepening skepticism in Turkey and elsewhere that the brazen crime could have been carried out without the knowledge of Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's heir apparent.