Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing, a Turkish prosecutor has said.
- Gruesome murder and dismemberment by a team sent from Riyadh to silence Khashoggi
- Saudi officials seem “primarily interested in finding out what evidence Turkey had against the perpetrators” than genuinely cooperating with the investigation
- Turkish President Erdogan urged Saudi regime to reveal location of Khashoggi’s body and who ordered the hit
- Saudi prosecutor accused of “working to save the crown prince by covering up the investigation rather than shed light on the murder”
- Trump has called the case “one of the worst cover-ups in history”
Istanbul’s chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan said in a statement that the 59-year-old Washington Post journalist’s body was then “cut into pieces and disposed of”.
The statement is the first public confirmation by an official that Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered after he entered the consulate on October 2 to collect paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.
The case has brought near unprecedented international scrutiny on Saudi Arabia and its powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whom Khashoggi had criticised in his writing.
After initially insisting Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, then saying he died in a brawl, the Saudi government has admitted he was killed by a ‘rogue operation’ and arrested 18 people.
Earlier today, Turkey cast doubt on whether Saudi Arabia was willing to ‘genuinely cooperate’ in the investigation into the murder of Khashoggi.
Riyadh sent the head of its own Khashoggi investigation, Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb, to Istanbul this week to meet with his Turkish counterparts.
However, a senior Turkish official said Wednesday that Saudi officials seemed ‘primarily interested in finding out what evidence Turkey had against the perpetrators’.
“We did not get the impression that they were keen on genuinely cooperating with the investigation,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
In the statement released on Wednesday afternoon, Fidan’s office said discussions with Mojeb have yielded no “concrete results” despite “good-willed efforts” by Turkey to uncover the truth.
Gruesome reports in the Turkish media have alleged the journalist was murdered and dismembered by a team sent from Riyadh to silence him.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the Saudi regime to reveal the location of Khashoggi’s body and who ordered the hit.
He has also repeatedly called for the suspects to be extradited for trial in Turkey, but Riyadh has rejected the request.
The case has sorely strained relations between the ultra-conservative kingdom and the West.
France said Wednesday that ‘not enough’ was being done to find those responsible for the murder of Khashoggi, who was an insider in Saudi royal circles before going into self-imposed exile in the United States last year.
“This crime has to be punished and the perpetrators identified. The truth needs to come out,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Mojeb, who was the first Saudi official to acknowledge that the killing was ‘premeditated’ based on the results of Turkey’s investigation, arrived in Istanbul on Sunday.
He met with Istanbul’s chief prosecutor twice, visited the consulate and spoke with Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency.
Mojeb, who has not made a public statement in Istanbul, was headed for Ataturk airport on Wednesday afternoon to leave the city, Turkish broadcaster TRT reported.
Abdulkadir Selvi, a well-connected pro-government columnist for Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, accused the Saudi prosecutor of “working to save the crown prince by covering up the investigation rather than shed light on the murder”.
He also wrote that Mojeb was in pursuit of Khashoggi’s phone, which the journalist handed to his Turkish fiancee before entering the consulate.
In an editorial published Tuesday, the Washington Post accused Riyadh of ‘deflecting questions by pretending to investigate’ the murder.
It said the administration of US President Donald Trump was “playing along” and “pretending to believe that the Saudis can conduct a credible probe – even though a chief suspect is the kingdom’s own autocratic ruler”.
The editorial also urged the US Congress to impose sanctions on those responsible – “including, if the available evidence points to him, Mohammed bin Salman – and reshape US relations with Saudi Arabia”.
The affair has tarnished the image of the crown prince, who has positioned himself as a Saudi reformer. He has denounced the murder as “repulsive” and strongly denied any involvement.
Trump meanwhile has called the case “one of the worst cover-ups in history”, but warned against halting a Saudi arms deal, saying it would harm US jobs.
However, relations between the long-time allies have cooled after the murder and on Tuesday, Washington called for a ceasefire and peace talks in Yemen, where the US has faced fierce international criticism for supporting a Saudi-led coalition.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the US had been watching the conflict, in which nearly 10,000 people have been killed, ‘for long enough’. – Daily Mail