Turkey’s Erdogan Calls Khashoggi’s Murder “Savage” and “Pre-planned” But Stops Short of Pointing Fingers

Marisha Dolly Singh
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Turkey could play a mediation role to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine after the seizure of three Ukrainian ships by Moscow sparked a major new crisis.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed members of the parliament to update them on the investigation into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He said Turkey had strong evidence Khashoggi was killed in a "premeditated" and "savage" murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. But he stopped short of saying who was behind the plot.

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He however did not let up on the pressure on Saudi Arabia to come up with answers about where Khashoggi’s body is and also wants those accused of killing the political columnist to be tried in Turkey. Of the 18 men arrested by Saudi Arabia in the investigation, 15 have already been identified by Turkish police as members of the hit squad who flew in and out of Istanbul the same day Khashoggi was killed.

"There are also questions in every mind; why did those 15 people gather in Istanbul on the day they committed the crime and … according to instructions given to them by whom? We need to know," he added.

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He added that Riyadh’s suggestion the killing was a rogue extradition operation gone wrong is unsatisfactory and Turkey’s investigation is still ongoing. Erdoğan also strongly criticised Saudi Arabia’s “inconsistent statements” over the case so far, and demanded the kingdom identify the “local collaborator” who allegedly disposed of Khashoggi’s body.

The Turkish President was also making a political statement when he said that “while Saudi Arabia has “taken an important step by admitting the murder”, those responsible must be held to account and an independent, criminal investigation needs to be carried out by Turkish authorities. Along with this he spoke of Saudi King Salman’s “sincerity” in the investigation so far, but made no mention of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom it is believed was probably aware of, and possibly even ordered, the silencing of Khashoggi – a prominent critic.

It was not just Turkish Erdogan’s turn to weigh in on the crime which has shaken the image of Saudi Arabia in the West.

The foreign ministries of the Group of Seven (G7) countries have made a statement on Khashoggi's killing and the explanations offered by Saudi Arabia:

"We, the G7 Foreign Ministers, of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul.”

"The confirmation of Mr Jamal Khashoggi's death is a first step toward full transparency and accountability. However, the explanations offered leave many questions unanswered.”

"We reiterate our expectation for a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation by Saudi Arabia, in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities, and a full and rigorous accounting of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi's death. Those responsible for the killing must be held to account. Saudi Arabia must put in place measures to ensure something like this can never happen again.”

"The circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death reaffirm the need to protect journalists and freedom of expression around the world.