Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come forward with a statement regarding Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s horrific murder, stating that the killing at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul was planned ahead of time.
According to the BBC, Erdogan was speaking to some of his MPs when he made the remarks, adding that Turkey has strong evidence that the journalist’s “savage” death was premeditated. Erdogan also called for the suspects in the killing — a supposed team of 15 assassins that were flown into Istanbul to do the deed — be tried in Turkey for their crimes.
Erdogan further added that the Saudi Arabian government must immediately reveal the location of Khashoggi’s remains, and who ordered the hit.
So far, the Saudis have provided conflicting information regarding Khashoggi’s death. After weeks of claiming no knowledge of the journalist’s sudden disappearance, they suggested perhaps it was a “rogue” operation, before later admitting he had died at their hands but claiming that it was during a fistfight that Khashoggi had initiated.
According to Erdogan, the team of assassins was flown in on three separate flights in the days and hours leading up to Khashoggi’s killing. Part of the team visited Belgrad forest the day before, leading authorities to believe that might be the location of the journalist’s body. The surveillance cameras inside the consulate also had their hard drives removed prior to Khashoggi’s arrival.
Furthermore, shortly after Khashoggi — who had made an appointment at the Saudi consulate to obtain documents required for him to be able to marry his fiancee — entered the building, a man of similar build, height, and age was seen leaving the consulate through the back door, wearing the journalist’s clothing, glasses, and a fake beard, but still his own shoes, as the Inquisitr previously reported. That man was later seen leaving Istanbul on a flight bound for Riyadh.
Erdogan confirmed that 18 people in Saudi Arabia have already been arrested in connection with the case. That number includes the 15 assassins and three consular officials.
“My demand is that 18 people be tried in Istanbul,” he told MPs from his ruling AK party, adding that “all those who played a role in the murder” must be punished for their actions.
Although there have been varying reports on video or audio from the brutal killing, the president made no move to confirm their existence.
The murder is suspected by many to be tied to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of whom Khashoggi has been critical in his writings. While Erdogan expressed his confidence in King Salman’s cooperation in the investigation of the killing, he made no mention of the crown prince.