The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has publicly torn down Saudi claims that the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in a fight in its Istanbul consulate, making fresh allegations that his death was a premeditated murder and calling for an independent investigation in Turkey.
In the hotly anticipated address at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, in which the president had promised to reveal the “naked truth” about what happened to Khashoggi, Erdoğan said he was not satisfied with Riyadh’s version of events of what happened and called for the “highest ranked” of those responsible to be brought to justice.
Tabling new allegations that Saudi officials scoped out rural areas outside Istanbul the day before Khashoggi’s murder, the president said Riyadh’s suggestion that the killing was a rogue extradition operation gone wrong was unsatisfactory and Turkey’s investigation was ongoing.
“To blame such an incident on a handful of security and intelligence members would not satisfy us or the international community,” Erdoğan said. “Saudi Arabia has taken an important step by admitting the murder. As of now we expect of them to openly bring to light those responsible – from the highest ranked to the lowest – and to bring them to justice.”
Erdoğan spoke of the “sincerity” of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in the investigation so far but made no mention of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who, it is believed, was probably aware of and possibly even ordered the silencing of his prominent critic.
Saudi Arabia must relinquish control of the investigation into the “political” murder to an independent and unbiased Turkish operation in Istanbul, Erdoğan said.
He strongly criticised Saudi Arabia’s “inconsistent statements” in the case so far and demanded the kingdom identify the “local collaborator” who allegedly disposed of Khashoggi’s body.
Turkish President Erdogan is making a statement in the Turkish Parliament on the death Jamal Khashoggi.
Turkish President said that the Saudi officials had planned the murder of Khashoggi days before his death.
Erdogan asked: “Why was the 15-man Saudi team in Turkey? On whose orders? Why was the consulate not opened to investigators immediately? Why were so many different statements given by Saudis? Who is the local collaborator who disposed of Khashoggi’s body? Saudi must answer all these questions.”
Turkey and the world will only be satisfied when all the planners and perpetrators are held to account. Other countries must participate in the investigation.
“I do not doubt the sincerity of King Salman. That being said, independent investigation needs to be carried out. This is a political killing.”
Based on reports from The Guardian, CNN, France 24 and Euronews
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday the kingdom was committed to a thorough and complete investigation to get to the truth behind the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
Omer Celik, spokesman of Erdogan’s ruling party, said the killing “was planned in an extremely savage manner,” and that “there has been a lot of effort to whitewash this”. An Erdogan adviser, Yasin Aktay, wrote in the Yeni Safak daily that Riyadh’s version of events “feels like our intelligence is being mocked”.
The security official heading a team of 15 Saudis allegedly sent to Istanbul, called the head of Prince Mohammed’s office, Bader al-Asaker, “four times after the murder”, the adviser added. Abdulkadir Selvi, whose Hurriyet newspaper columns are closely watched for indications of Erdogan’s thinking, wrote that Khashoggi was slowly strangled to death before a Saudi forensic specialist cut his body into 15 pieces while listening to music.
“We cannot close this file until the crown prince is brought to account and removed from his post,” said Selvi. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, a smooth former envoy to Washington, appeared on Fox News Sunday to blame a “rogue operation” by individuals who “exceeded their responsibilities” and then “tried to cover up for it”.
With Khashoggi’s remains still missing, Turkish police have found an abandoned car belonging to the Saudi consulate in an underground car park in the Sultangazi district of Istanbul, state media said.
Erdogan has stopped short of directly pointing the finger at Riyadh. Analysts say he preferred to authorise the leak of incriminating information to pro-government media to put pressure on the kingdom. He has twice held telephone talks with King Salman on the crisis, interpreted by some as sidelining the ageing monarch’s son Prince Mohammed.