Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday told members of his AK Party that the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, was premeditated and a planned affair, contradicting Riyadh’s version of events. The Turkish president had earlier vowed to reveal the “naked truth” about the killing.
Erdogan said his government was considering diplomatic action against Saudi Arabia for the murder, The Guardian reported. “Khashoggi’s death is an international issue and Turkey will pursue it,” he said, adding that those involved must be brought to justice. “We will continue trying to find the facts, no one will stop us,” Al Jazeera quoted the Turkish president as saying.
Erdogan said he had spoken to Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud about the matter and the two countries have created a joint investigation team to conduct inquiries into the incident. “I do not doubt the sincerity of King Salman,” he said. “That being said, independent investigation needs to be carried out. This is a political killing.” The Turkish president also urged other countries to participate in the investigation. Multiple reports said US Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel is in Istanbul to talk to Turkish officials about the inquiries into the killing.
Two Saudi teams, comprising 15 people, murdered the journalist, Erdogan said. The team that planned and executed the murder included Army generals, and was informed of Khashoggi’s visit to the consulate the day before, he added. He said Saudis initially told Turkish investigators that the journalist had died in a brawl. “We were told the body was given to a local person, we need to know who,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president told the audience that the consulate is on sovereign Turkish soil and the Geneva Convention cannot provide the guilty diplomatic immunity.
Earlier in the day, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara would cooperate with international bodies if they launch an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s death, AP reported, quoting from an interview the minister gave to the Anadolu news agency.
Turkey, Cavusoglu added, has not shared evidence on the matter with any country but said there may have been “an exchange of views between intelligence organisations”.
On Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir claimed officials in Riyadh do not know how Khashoggi was killed in their consulate in Istanbul or where his body is. The foreign minister called the journalist’s murder a terrible mistake and offered condolences to his family. The Saudis, who initially denied that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, have changed their statement more than once in the past few weeks. On Saturday they said the journalist was killed after a quarrel and a brawl with unidentified men in the consulate.
A number of major Western nations have expressed their dissatisfaction with the Saudis’ claims and have said they would wait for the investigation by Turkish authorities to end.
Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017. On Wednesday, audio recordings accessed by a Turkish daily suggested that Khashoggi had been tortured before being decapitated.
Meanwhile, the Future Investment Initiative forum, which is the brainchild of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, began in Riyadh on Tuesday. Salman has faced a lot of criticism and scrutiny in the media in the past few weeks for allegedly approving of the plan to kidnap the journalist. A number of high-profile media and business figures boycotted the event. The organisers said deals worth $50 billion (3.67 lakh crore) would be signed at the start of the event, AP reported.