Dutch Minister cancels visit to Saudi Arabia after journalist's disappearance

Wopke Hoekstra
Wopke HoekstraPhoto: Rijksoverheid

Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance canceled his planned visit to an investor conference in Saudi Arabia next week, following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he visited the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The consultancy firm that organized Hoekstra trip confirmed that the Minister is no longer going, ANP reports.

Surveillance camera footage show Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 3rd. There is no footage of him leaving again and he hasn't been seen since. There is still much confusion about what happened to him.

According to Turkey, Khashoggi was overpowered after his arrival at the consulate by a group of 15 people who had flown in from Saudi Arabia. Turkey says that they tortured the journalist, cut off his fingers, beheaded him and then cut his body into pieces. Several members of the group are said to have ties with Saudi crown prince Mohamad Bin Salman. Khashoggi regularly criticized the prince. Bin Salman denies any involvement. 

Hoekstra previously said that he is reconsidering his visit to Saudi Arabia. He called reports about what happened to Khashoggi very disturbing, stating that more clarity is needed.

Hoekstra's French colleague Bruno Le Maire also canceled his participation at the conference in Riyadh. He told French media that the accusations against Saudi Arabia are too serious to allow the visit to continue.

Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is scheduled to lead a trade mission to Saudi in December. Whether this trip will happen is not yet clear.