Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday there were strong indications that Jamal Khashoggi’s killing was planned and stated that attempts to blame it on intelligence operatives – Riyadh has suggested it was a rogue operation – „will not satisfy us.”
Erdoğan said that he does not doubt Saudi King Salman’s sincerity, without elaborating. He also said the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body were still unknown and he demanded Saudi Arabia to reveal the identity of a „local cooperator” who purportedly took the body.
„The murder of Saudi journalist Khashoggi was premeditated,” Erdoğan said, adding Khashoggi’s killing was a “political murder.”
In a speech to parliament, Erdoğan did not mention Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who some U.S. lawmakers suspect ordered the killing. But he said Turkey would not complete its investigation into Khashoggi’s death until all questions were answered.
„Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned…. Pinning such a case on some security and intelligence members will not satisfy us or the international community,” the president remarked.
“Consulate cameras had been removed,” Erdoğan said, adding that “the team who committed the murder was previously notified” that Khashoggi would be at the consulate.
He said evidence proved Khashoggi was „brutally murdered,” and called for the 18 suspects in the case to stand trial in Istanbul.
“Everybody, from the instructor of the murder to the implementer, should answer to clear mankind’s conscience,” he said.
In his speech, Erdoğan also said that the Saudi government formally admitted to the killing of Khashoggi 17 days after his murder.
„The Vienna convention would not allow such a’brutal murder to happen,” Erdoğan stated.
„Diplomatic immunity, which is a part of the Vienna Convention, will be debated,” he remarked.
Erdoğan said a Saudi team of 15 entered the consulate the day of the killing, and that three men from the team went on an exploration trip to Belgrad forest in Istanbul and Yalova, a 90-kilometre (55 mile) drive south of Istanbul.
Khashoggi vanished after entering the consulate on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
Erdoğan also extended his condolences to Khashoggi’s fiancée, his family and Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and a critic of the Saudi government, calling for reforms.
After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning said he had died in a fistfight at the consulate. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold, which a senior official reiterated.
AK Party to continue cooperation with MHP
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party will not form an alliance with the nationalist party for the 2019 local elections, but cooperation between the two parties will continue, Erdoğan said on Tuesday, after the nationalists pulled out of the alliance earlier.
The People’s Alliance between AK Party and the MHP was formed this February ahead of the June presidential and parliamentary elections, and continued in some forms between the two parties.
„We see the People’s Alliance as one of the most important gains of our country recently, and we want to carry it into future,” Erdoğan stressed, but added that it would run independently from the MHP in the March 2019 local election.
The president said they never did anything which will harm the spirit of the alliance, adding that his party will not be involved in any action.