Where is Khashoggi’s body? Turkey asks Saudi Arabia
- Turkey has ‘information and evidence’ about the killing by Saudi officials but ‘no point in being too hasty’ to reveal it, Turkish president said
The Saudi officials who killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their Istanbul consulate must reveal the location of his body, Turkey’s president said on Friday in remarks that were sharply critical of the kingdom’s handling of the case.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor will arrive in Turkey on Sunday as part of the investigation and meet his Turkish counterparts.
On Thursday, Saudi prosecutors said Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated, citing Turkish evidence and changing the country’s account again to try to ease international outrage over the slaying of a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Turkey has other “information and evidence” about the killing by Saudi officials after Khashoggi entered the consulate on October 2 and it will eventually reveal it, Erdogan said without elaborating.
“There is no point in being too hasty,” he said in an indication that Turkey is prepared to keep pressure on Saudi Arabia, even as the kingdom struggles for ways to end the crisis.
CIA Director Gina Haspel was in Turkey earlier this week to review evidence and briefed US President Donald Trump in Washington on Thursday.
What Trump called “one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups” was revealed to the world by Turkish leaks of information, including references to audio recordings of the killing, and security camera footage of the Saudi officials involved as they moved around Istanbul. Key mysteries remaining include whether the killing was carried out with the knowledge of the crown prince, who denies it, and the location of Khashoggi’s body.
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“It is clear that he has been killed but where is it? You have to show the body,” Erdogan said during an address to Turkey’s ruling party leaders.
The Turkish president criticised initial Saudi statements claiming Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed after going there for paperwork related to his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.
“He will leave the consulate and not take his fiancée with him? Such childish statements do not go hand in hand with statesmanship,” said Erdogan, again urging Saudi Arabia to turn over 18 suspects the kingdom said it arrested and would punish for the crime. “If you cannot get them to speak … then hand them over to us and let us put them on trial.”
Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s son, Salah, left Saudi Arabia after the kingdom revoked a travel ban, allowing him to travel to the US with his family.
The US State Department said on Thursday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Salah Khashoggi during a recent visit to Riyadh and “made it clear” Washington wanted him free to leave the kingdom.
The statement from Saudi prosecutors that evidence showed Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated contradicted an earlier Saudi assertion that rogue officials from the kingdom killed Khashoggi by mistake in a brawl. That assertion, in turn, backtracked from an initial statement that Saudi authorities knew nothing about what happened.
The shifting explanations indicate Saudi Arabia is scrambling for a way out of the crisis. But a solution seems a long way off, partly because of deepening scepticism in Turkey and elsewhere that the brazen crime could have been carried out without the involvement of the prince.
Khashoggi’s death has derailed the powerful prince’s attempts to project a modern image of the ultraconservative country, instead highlighting the brutal lengths to which the government has gone to silence its critics.