Due to immense pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey said it will announce details of its investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday and U.S. congressional leaders said the Gulf kingdom — in particular its crown prince — should face severe consequences for the death of the writer in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The announcement on Sunday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will “go into detail” about the Khashoggi case in a speech in parliament heightened hopes for some clarity in a case that has been shrouded in mystery, conflicting accounts and shocking allegations since Khashoggi, a critic of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after entering the consulate on Oct 2.
Erdogan spoke after Saudi Arabia, in a statement early Saturday, finally acknowledged that 59-year-old Khashoggi had died in the consulate, though its explanation that he was killed in a “fistfight” was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up designed to absolve Prince Mohammed of direct responsibility. Saudi Arabia said 18 Saudis were arrested and that several top intelligence officials were fired.
Pro-government media in Turkey have reported a different narrative, saying a Saudi hit squad of 15 people traveled to Turkey to kill the columnist for The Washington Post before leaving the country hours later in private jets.
“Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details,” Erdogan said.
Meanwhile, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony on Monday, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported. Prosecutors have previously questioned consulate staff; some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.
Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency reported Sunday that Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has been given 24-hour police protection.
Also Sunday, images that were obtained by TRT World, a Turkish news channel that broadcasts in English, showed Khashoggi as he arrived at a police barrier before entering the consulate on Oct. 2. The images, taken from security camera video, show the writer being searched before continuing toward the building.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Fox News that Khashoggi’s killing was “a rogue operation” and that “we don’t know where the body is.’”
“The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority,” he said. “There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable to the government.”
However, a leading U.S. Senate Republican said the Saudi explanation, which followed initial denials from the kingdom that it knew anything about Khashoggi’s fate, wasn’t credible.