Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the country’s Turkish consulate before his body was dismembered and disposed of, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has said in what was seen as an attempt by Turkey to pressure Riyadh over the investigation.
Irfan Fidan said the killing of the dissident writer was planned in advance and that he had asked Saudi prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb to reveal the location of the body.
The statement came after Mr Fidan and Mr Mojeb carried out inspections at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was killed earlier this month, and held meetings with Turkey’s public prosecutor and Turkish intelligence officials.
“Despite our well-intentioned efforts to reveal the truth, no concrete results have come out of those meetings,” said Mr Fidan in the statement.
Turks have grown quickly frustratedwith their Saudi counterparts, whom they accuse of attempting to derail and obfuscate the Khashoggi matter instead of getting to the bottom of the murder. Turks keep asking for answers to three key questions: who ordered the 18-man operation to murder Mr Khashoggi, what happened to the victim’s body. Turks have received no satisfactory answers.
“They were more interested in finding out what we had on the killers than share information with us,” said a source close to the Turkish government. “Instead of answering very simple questions, they invited the Turkish investigators to Saudi Arabia. It looks like an attempt to run down the clock until nobody cares anymore.”
Saudi Arabia has continually changed its story regarding the affair. Days after Mr Khashoggi walked into the consulate and was murdered, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, believed by many world leaders to have ordered the hit, told Bloomberg to ask the Turks what happened to Mr Khashoggi.
After insisting for weeks that Mr Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate, the Saudis claimed he died in a scuffle with Saudi agents seeking to entice him to return home, with the panicked operatives disposing of his body hastily disposed of by “a local collaborator.” As more evidence was leaked, Saudi Arabia admitted the killing was a “premeditated” plot but refused to say who ordered the operation.
In his statement the Turkish prosecutor accused his Saudi counterpart of revising again Riyadh’s account, falsely claiming that “no statement had been made by the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the existence of a ‘local collaborator.'”
Riyadh and Ankara have clashed even over basic jurisdictional matters. Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 Saudi suspects detained in Saudi Arabia over Mr Khashoggi’s killing, insisting that the crime was committed on Turkish soil they have a duty to prosecute it. Saudi officials have said the kingdom will try the 18 suspects and bring them to justice because they are Saudi citizens who allegedly killed a Saudi citizen in a Saudi diplomatic facility.
The public airing of differences between Saudi Arabia and Turkey came as a group of Republican senators asked Donald Trump to suspend civilian nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia over the murder of and Saudi actions in Yemen and Lebanon.
The five US lawmakers, led by senator Marco Rubio, said they would use the Atomic Energy Act to block any US-Saudi nuclear agreements if Mr Trump did not cut off talks.
“The ongoing revelations about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as certain Saudi actions related to Yemen and Lebanon, have raised further serious concerns about the transparency, accountability, and judgment of current decision makers in Saudi Arabia,” the senators wrote.
“We therefore request that you suspend any related negotiations for a US-Saudi civil nuclear agreement for the foreseeable future,” said the lawmakers, who included senators Cory Gardner, Rand Paul, Dean Heller and Todd Young.