Saudi Prosecutor to Visit Istanbul over Khashoggi Murder
Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor will visit Istanbul to speak with Turkish authorities as part of the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey’s president said Friday, adding that Ankara has yet more evidence in the case.
The announcement by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes a day after the Saudi prosecutor said that, based on evidence supplied by Turkey, the murder appeared to have been premeditated — the first time Saudi authorities have made such an admission.
The killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor critical of Riyadh, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 has sparked international backlash against the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to draw a line under the crisis but a string of gruesome details about the murder have continued to appear in the Turkish media.
Erdogan said that the Saudi prosecutor would arrive on Sunday, and called on Riyadh to reveal who ordered the killing and the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body.
“You need to show this body,” Erdogan said during an address in Ankara to his ruling party’s provincial heads.
Khashoggi, 59, had been living in self-exile in the United States since 2017.
He was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage to a Turkish woman.
The kingdom has arrested 18 Saudi suspects over the case. Erdogan said that they must know who killed Khashoggi and his repeated call for the men to be tried in Turkey.
“The culprit is among them. If that is not the case, then who is the local conspirator? You have to tell,” said Erdogan.
“Unless you tell, Saudi Arabia will not be free from this suspicion.”
Erdogan, who has so far stopped short of directly blaming the Saudi government, said Turkey had already shared evidence with countries including Saudi Arabia and added that it had even more.
“It is not that we don’t have any other information or documents. We do. Tomorrow is another day,” he said.
Riyadh’s admission that the murder appeared to be a premeditated hit marked the latest twist in the shifting official narrative from Saudi authorities.
They had first insisted Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, then said he was killed in an argument that degenerated into a brawl.
In his speech Erdogan mocked the initial explanation of Khashoggi’s disappearance as “childish” and “far from state seriousness”.
On Thursday, CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed U.S. President Donald J. Trump on the latest developments in the investigation after a fact-finding mission to Turkey.
Trump has called the case “one of the worst cover-ups in history”.
Pro-government Turkish media said that intelligence officers showed Haspel video images and audio tapes of Khashoggi’s killing gathered from the consulate.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de factor ruler, denounced the “repulsive” murder this week after facing mounting pressure from sceptical world powers.
Prince Mohammed spoke with Erdogan on the phone on Wednesday for the first time since the murder.
He has denied any involvement and the kingdom’s leadership has pushed responsibility down the chain of command.
However U.N. expert Agnes Callamard said Thursday that Khashoggi was the victim of an “extrajudicial execution” committed by the Saudi state. She called for an international investigation.
Khashoggi’s eldest son Salah and his family left Saudi Arabia this week after the government lifted a travel ban, according to Human Rights Watch.
His departure came after he was photographed with Prince Mohammed during a condolence visit, staring coldly as the pair shook hands.