Turkey says murder of Khashoggi in Saudi consulate 'savagely planned'

Turkey says murder of Khashoggi in Saudi consulate 'savagely planned'
3 min read
22 October, 2018
The murder of Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate was 'savagely planned', a top Turkish official said, the first official indication from Ankara that the killing was devised in advance.
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was 'savagely planned', a Turkish official said. [Getty]

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Riyadh's Istanbul consulate was "savagely planned", Turkey's ruling party spokesman said on Monday, the first official indication from Ankara it believes a plot was hatched in advance.

"This was extremely savagely planned, and we are faced with a situation where there has been a lot of effort to whitewash this," Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Omer Celik told reporters in Ankara.

"This is a very complicated murder," Celik said, warning that the Turkish government would not be drawn into speculation. "Everyone (else) can speculate but we cannot speculate," Celik added.

He also dismissed claims of "bargaining" between Saudi Arabia and Turkey as "immoral".

After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted on Saturday that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey.

It added 18 Saudis were arrested in connection with his death and two top aides of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as three other intelligence agents, were fired.

But Riyadh has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation about Khashoggi's death, as world powers demand answers and the whereabouts of his body.

An adviser to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday joined the chorus of criticism surrounding Riyadh's narrative of Khashoggi's death, suggesting it "mocked" world opinion.

"One cannot help but wonder how there could have been a 'fistfight' between 15 young expert fighters ... and a 60-year-old Khashoggi, alone and defenceless," Yasin Aktay wrote in the Yeni Safak newspaper.

"The 'fistfight' argument regarding Khashoggi's death is a scenario which was hastily made up, as it became clear that all the details of the incident will soon come out," he added.

Body double, abandoned car

Before Riyadh's admission, Turkish sources said a team of 15 Saudis were sent to Istanbul and killed Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince who moved to the United States last year and wrote for the Washington Post. 

Turkish media has said the team interrogated, tortured and decapitated Khashoggi but a pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi on Monday wrote in Hurriyet daily that Khashoggi was strangled to death before he was cut up into 15 pieces.

Celik pointed to CCTV footage published by CNN on Monday, which the American broadcaster claimed showed one of the Saudi officials acting as a body double for Khashoggi and leaving the consulate.

A senior Turkish official quoted by CNN said that the Saudi was "brought to Istanbul to act as a body double" for Khashoggi, adding: "This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate."

In the video a man, named by CNN as Mustafa al-Madani, left the consulate by the back exit wearing what appeared to be Khashoggi's clothes - although the shoes do not match those the journalist appeared to be wearing in CCTV footage of him entering the consulate.

Turkish police on Monday said they had found an abandoned diplomatic car in a private Istanbul car park.

The Mercedes matches a car seen outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Hurriyet reported.

Turkish police require Saudi Arabia's permission to search the vehicle, and a request has been made to the consulate general.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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