Hours after the Washington Post published an anonymously sourced story claiming that Saudi Arabia is still refusing to cooperate with Turkish investigators looking into the murder of insider-turned-dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Istanbul’s head prosecutor has delivered a statement revealing more incriminating details about the circumstances surrounding the journalist’s murder at the hands of a 15-man “hit squad” inside the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
In a revelation that supports the theory, advanced by a steady stream of leaks to Western and Turkish media from the prosecutor’s office, that Khashoggi’s murder was a premeditated act ordered by senior intelligence officials and possibly Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman himself, Istanbul’s head prosecutor said Wednesday that Khashoggi was strangled to death as soon as he entered the consulate in a murder that was likely pre-planned. His body was then “cut into pieces” and presumably smuggled it out of the consulate.
Notably, the statement from the Turkish prosecutor comes shortly after his Saudi counterpart, Saud al-Mojeb, left the country after a meeting between the two. The Saudis have largely stonewalled the inquiry into Khashoggi’s disappearance and killing. After denying any involvement, the kingdom admitted earlier this month that Khashoggi was, in fact, murdered inside the embassy, something the kingdom has officially said was the result of a “botched interrogation,” the Saudis pledged “full cooperation” with their Turkish counterparts. But that promise was apparently less-than-sincere. The Saudi prosecutor has since flirted with possibility of changing his story yet again to suggest that the murder was “premeditated” by the low-level operatives who carried it out.
This is only the latest leak in recent days suggesting that the Saudis have been less than cooperative. According to one pro-government columnist on Wednesday, al-Mojeb seemed more interested in learning what Turkey knew than in getting to the bottom of what happened to Khashoggi. In a statement released by
Here’s WaPo with more:
Since the prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, arrived in Turkey on Monday, “Saudi officials seemed primarily interested in finding out what evidence the Turkish authorities had against the perpetrators” in Khashoggi’s killing, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss private law enforcement contacts.
“We did not get the impression that they were keen on genuinely cooperating with the investigation,” the official said of the Saudi delegation.
The Saudis have rebuffed demands expressed by prosecutors and President Erdogan himself that the kingdom disclose where Khashoggi’s body was buried, or the name of the “local cooperator” whom the Saudis claim the killers worked with to dispose of Khashoggi’s remains. Turkey has also requested the extradition of the 18 Saudi nationals who were arrested by the kingdom in connection with the murder. But while the international pressure has inspired Germany to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia, and US lawmakers have continued to push for some kind of punitive action despite President Trump’s obvious reluctance, the fallout from the scandal has been relatively muted. And as the international outrage subsides, many epect MbS will ultimately use this as one more excuse to consolidate power in Riyadh. Though the Turks still have an ace up their sleeve: The rumored audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder which has been widely cited in the press, but never released to the public. And while the Turks reportedly played it for CIA Director Gina Haspel, their plans for the record remain unclear.
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