A senior Turkish official says Jamal Khashoggi’s body was dismembered and disolved. (Metafora Production via AP)
The order to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in an op-ed piece published by the Washington Post.
- Turkish President does not believe King Salman ordered hit
- Advisor says Khashoggi’s body was cut up, then dissolved to dispose of it
- Fiancee puts pressure on the US to bring killers to justice
However, he wrote: “I do not believe for a second that King Salman, the custodian of the holy mosques, ordered the hit on Khashoggi.”
He said that despite a longstanding relationship between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Istanbul would not “turn a blind eye to the premeditated murder that unfolded in front of our very eyes”.
“The killing of Khashoggi is inexplicable,” he wrote.
“Had this atrocity taken place in the United States or elsewhere, authorities in those countries would have gotten to the bottom of what happened.”
Meanwhile, in the latest development in the month-long investigation into the journalist’s death, an advisor to the Turkish President said the body was cut up so it would dissolve easier.
On Thursday (local time), Istanbul’s chief prosecutors announced that Khashoggi was suffocated in a premeditated killing as soon as he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Istanbul has been pressuring Saudi Arabia to reveal the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body but Yasin Aktay, who advises Mr Erdogan and was a friend of Khashoggi’s, told Hurriyet newspaper that the corpse was disposed of by dismembering and dissolving it.
“According to the latest information we have, the reason they dismembered his body is to dissolve it easier,” he said.
This was the first time this detail has been mentioned.
There was no immediate comment on the report from Turkish officials.
The Saudi Government initially insisted Khashoggi had left the consulate, later saying he died in an unplanned “rogue operation”.
Last week, the kingdom’s public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb said the attack was premeditated.
The kingdom has faced a torrent of international condemnation over the murder of Khashoggi, upending the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s image as a reformer on the international stage.
US President Donald Trump said Saudi authorities staged the “worst cover-up ever” but has also made more conciliatory remarks that highlight Riyadh’s role as a US ally against Iran and Islamist militants, as well as a purchaser of US arms.
On Thursday, US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters that Khashoggi’s remains should be located and returned to his family for a burial as soon as possible.
Fiancee pressures US to bring killers to justice
Khashoggi had entered the consulate to get papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside for hours before she alerted Turkish authorities.
“No matter how long I waited, the joyful Jamal did not return. All that came was news of his death,” Ms Cengiz wrote in an op-ed published on Friday.
Ms Cengiz praised Turkey’s investigation efforts and called on the United States to lead the way to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“With this tragedy, the Trump administration has taken a position that is devoid of moral foundation,” she wrote.
“But we will continue to push the Trump administration to help find justice for Jamal. There will be no cover-up.”
International condemnation grows
The latest details of the case that has gained world-wide attention comes as two countries added to the growing international outcry over the killing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the slaying “horrendous” and said it must be dealt with.
“Yet at the same time I say that it’s very important for the stability of the world, for the region and of the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable,” Mr Netanyahu said.
“I think that a way must be found to achieve both goals.”
On Thursday, Norway summoned the Saudi ambassador, with Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide saying that the move “underlined how seriously we take this issue.”