Khashoggi killing: Turkey vows to reveal ‘truth’ on Saudi critic’s death

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CCTV footage shows missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Turkey has vowed to reveal all details about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time he had been killed in its consulate in Istanbul.

“Turkey will never allow a cover-up,” a ruling party spokesperson said.

Saudi Arabia suggested on Friday Mr Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi critic, had died in a “fist fight”.

Turkish officials previously said he had been deliberately killed inside the consulate, and his body dismembered.

Earlier this week, unnamed Turkish officials told media outlets they had audio and visual evidence to prove this.

The Saudi kingdom has come under intense pressure to explain Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance after he entered the Istanbul consulate on 2 October to seek paperwork for his forthcoming marriage. Until Friday, it had denied knowledge of his whereabouts and insisted he had left the building alive.

Turkish police and prosecutors have been searching the consulate as well as the consul’s residence this week for evidence of what unfolded. On Friday they widened their search to a nearby forest, where unnamed officials believe his body may have been disposed of.

The kingdom says a fight broke out between Mr Khashoggi, who had fallen out of favour with the Saudi government, and people who met him in the consulate – ending with his death.

It says investigations are under way, and so far 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested.

Unnamed officials speaking to Reuters news agency and the New York Times say the Saudis did not know the whereabouts of the body after it was handed to a “local collaborator” to dispose of.

In addition to the arrests, two senior officials have been sacked over the affair – deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The Saudi authorities have yet to give evidence to support this version of events.

Observers are questioning whether Saudi Arabia’s Western allies will find their account of a “botched rendition” convincing – and whether it will persuade them not to take punitive action against them.

US President Donald Trump said what had happened was “unacceptable” but that the arrests were an important “first step”. The UK Foreign Office said it was considering its next steps after hearing the report.

“Turkey will reveal whatever had happened,” said Omer Celik of Turkey’s ruling AKP party, according to Anadolu news agency.

“Nobody should ever doubt about it. We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don’t accept anything to remain covered [up].”

Publicly Turkey has so far stopped short of blaming Saudi Arabia for the killing.

Turkish investigators, however, say they have audio and video evidence which shows Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate and dismembered. Reports in Turkish media this week gave gruesome details of what are said to be his final minutes.

Turkish media said earlier this week they had identified a 15-member team of suspected Saudi agents who flew into and out of Istanbul on the day of the disappearance.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Saudi King Salman on Friday evening, and the two agreed to continue co-operating in the investigation. (Excerpts from BBC)

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