Members of the Saudi hit squad who allegedly killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Istanbul consulate celebrated in the taxi on their way home, a Turkish driver of the team revealed.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, the Turkish driver drove “part of the assassination team — including a senior intelligence officer close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — to and from the airport and the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where the alleged murder took place.”
According to Turkey’s pro-government website, A Haber, the driver said that members of the hit squad were “very cheerful. They smoked and drank alcohol in the car after killing the journalist.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has “furiously” demanded that Saudi Arabia extradite the 18 Saudi suspects held over Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to Turkey.
During bilateral talks with the leaders of Russia, France, and Germany on Saturday, the Turkish president discussed the issue of Khashoggi’s killing and demanded to know who sent the 18 killers to Istanbul, per the Daily Star.
However, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Adel al-Jubeir, said that the country will investigate the killing and the process “will take time,” per the Sunday Times.
The Sunday Times also said that few believe that the 18 suspects will eventually be handed over to Turkey, however, analysts believe that the matter will be brought to an end after reaching a deal involving Ankara, Riyadh, and Washington.
Per the Daily Star report, al-Jubeir said during a security summit in Bahrain that Saudi Arabia’s ties with the United States were “ironclad” amid the ongoing “media hysteria” over Khashoggi’s killing. He further added that the Trump administration’s foreign policy is “rational and realistic” and can be supported by all Gulf Arab states.
On the other hand, U.S. defense secretary Jim Mattis said that Khashoggi’s murder has undermined the stability of the Middle East and that “Washington would take additional measures against those responsible.”
Speaking at a conference in Bahrain, Mattis also added that the core relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia would not be affected, per Daily Star.
“With our collective interests in peace and unwavering respect for human rights in mind, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in a diplomatic facility must concern us all greatly. Failure of any one nation to adhere to international norms and the rule of law undermines regional stability at a time when it is needed most.”